November: Healthy Eating During the Holidays!

Physicians Health Network Health & Awareness Articles
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Thanksgiving Does Not have to Bring On a Season of Overindulgence!

 

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration bringing family and friends together around a banquet of traditional foods and family recipes. These and other social gatherings during the season always-present opportunities to become overindulgent and even the most disciplined struggle with the temptations the holiday offers. However, with the right strategy, there are ways you can maintain a balance and keep your diet healthy and intact.

“As we approach the holiday season we are drawn to the family traditions – the special recipes and foods that have filled our holiday tables for decades – and faced with the challenge of enjoying these traditions while trying to avoid overindulgence,” said Marla Wolfert, MD, Prevea Health.

One of the ways Dr. Wolfert suggests to avoid the stuffed feeling this time of year is to give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday, family traditions and favorite foods in sensible portions. “As in all aspects of maintaining our health, moderation is the key. The holidays are no different,” said Dr. Wolfert.

When approaching the banquet filled with beloved family traditions, follow the simple tips (below) to make the season healthier and less guilt ridden.

1. It is important to be realistic. The holidays are not the time to try to lose weight, but rather, maintain your weight.
2. Using a smaller plate helps you, especially in a buffet-style setting limit the amount of food you take.
3. Before you leave for the ‘gathering’, eat a healthy snack so you do not arrive hungry.
4. Enjoy conversations with other guests, which are calorie-free, but be sure you enjoy each other’s company away from the buffet table to avoid nibbling.
5. Walk around the buffet area before you make your selections. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite – making sure you include vegetables and fruits.
6. Do not starve yourself during the day, knowing there is a big meal ahead. It is best to balance what you eat all day so you do not ‘stuff’ yourself.
7. Beverages contain calories too. Avoid drinking beverages that are high in sugar and calories. Alcohol adds extra, unwanted calories, and too much can lower inhibitions, which can lead to overeating! Try to choose water to balance a heavy meal.
8. Keep track of your portions and take small ‘tastes’ of the higher calorie dishes
9. Savor your favorite holiday traditional recipes in small portions. Sit down and get comfortable when you eat.
10. Remember that eating until you are satisfied will prevent you from overeating, which brings on that stuffed and uncomfortable feeling. Pay attention to your appetite prior to going for a second helping.
11. If you do overeat at one meal, eat lighter at the next one. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance food consumption to gain one pound.
12. Try to take the focus away from food. There are many other activities you and your family, children, grandchildren can do that do not involve food such as making wreaths, decorations, or gingerbread houses.
13. Learn how to adapt your traditional family recipes into healthier dishes to promote healthy holiday eating.

Keep Moving

The holidays are a time of family friends, and food! You cannot always prevent the indulgences, but you can alleviate their effects by staying physically active. Exercise is very important during the holiday season; just by taking a 10- to 15-minute brisk walk, two times a day will help you maintain control over the temptations of the season and feel good about yourself.

Physical activity helps reduce stress and proved more energy. Try fitting in a workout before a party and during those all day gatherings; ask some of the guests to go on a brisk walk with you. Incorporate activities that promote being active as part of your holiday traditions.

If you like to participate in fun walks and/or runs, sign yourself up for a seasonal 5K run/walk or some other fitness event that will motivate you to stay true to your fitness routine during the season.

“Most importantly, remember the holidays are for celebrating with family and friends, be kind to yourself, and enjoy the season,” said Dr. Wolfert.