As we prepare to go into holiday mode attending festivities with friends and family we must still be mindful of what we eat & drink. We typically gain 1-5 extra pounds at holiday time. This may not sound like alot but 5 pounds is hard to lose in the New Year!
Follow these tips for a healthful holiday season:
- Stay active as much as possible in between holiday visits, even if this means taking a daily walk around the block. If the weather is bad, take your walks indoors at a local mall. Being sedentary is not only a factor in weight gain but also trouble for heart and joint health.
- Be Smart When Snacking. During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies are available in abundance. When treats are easy to access, unhealthy snacking is more likely to occur. Skip the sugary treats and go for the nuts or cheese/veggie trays. At home don’t keep sugary treats out and if you need to have something on hand for drop ins, keep them in the freezer and take them out as needed to avoid temptation.
- Watch Your Portion Sizes. If you find yourself at a buffet event, choose the smaller plate and pass on foods with sauces, make your plate heavier on the veggies and meats.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep deprivation is quite common during the holidays, and it can lead to weight gain. This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity. The reason behind this is that sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.
- Keep Meals Balanced With Protein & Fiber. It’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and reduces cravings for carbs. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa and eggs. Ensure your holiday meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.
- Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to incorporate fiber rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, into your meals.
- Limit Liquid Calories. The holidays are a time of year when alcohol, soft drinks and sweetened beverages seem to be unlimited. These beverages can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain. Choose club soda or sparkling water with lemon instead.
- Choose Healthier Alternatives. When preparing for your own holiday party, your guests may appreciate that you used these healthier alternatives:
- Replace butter with applesauce, mashed banana or pumpkin puree.
- Instead of sugar, use stevia, honey or maple syrup.
- Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies.
- Flavor recipes with extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint instead of butter and sugar.
- Substitute low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream.
- Replace cream cheese, sour cream and mayo with Greek yogurt.
Do your best to keep these tips in mind and start off the new year right! Wishing you all the best for a healthy holiday season!