No Gain No Pain for Holiday Eating

Here are three simple strategies to have your cake and eat it during the holidays! (Updated from the Premium Newsletter Archive)

It’s a given by now that Americans typically add between three and five pounds between turkey time and the last New Year’s open house. This year, give yourself a great holiday gift - optimum nutrition without weight gain and enjoy unique and symbolic foods.

Sound too good to be true? Read on for three simple strategies that will help you through the pitfalls of the season. Extra calories and rich foods are consumed partly due to external cues. advertising, social pressures, habit? and partly in response to deep-rooted internal signals or cues.

#1 Eat!

A substantial low-fat breakfast and large healthy lunch will help you detour around desks topped with chocolates, grocery aisles full of holiday cookies, and all those treats in the malls.

Stay charged all day with healthy snacks to avoid the low-blood-sugar blues. When we get too hungry, we tend to make poor food choices or overeat.

Snack on something before heading out to parties to avoid fat-laden appetizers, cheese, and nuts which take up precious calories you would rather spend elsewhere.

Survey the entire buffet and choose one enticing selection, typically something you don’t usually eat or a friend’s delicious new recipe, then fill up on low-fat vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Shift the focus of your meals from meats to holiday side dishes and serve an extensive array of healthful dishes based on legumes, pasta, rice, vegetables, and fruits. Special foods, such as wild rice, porcini mushrooms, passion fruits, and homemade pasta, make it holiday fare.

#2 Treat!

An occasional eggnog or punch is fine but in small cups, not mugs. Alcoholic beverages have empty calories, usually stored as fat; dilute your drink with ice or seltzer.

Choose your treats carefully and just take a small bite, but not too many small bites. People don’t realize that a lot of little bites add up. A bit of pasta here, a pinch of cheese, a slice of bread, a spoonful of dessert?  before you know it, you’ve eaten two dinners' worth of calories at a party.

Avoid buying high-fat or sugary holiday snacks “just to have around for company.” Don’t worry; your guests will find plenty of bonbons elsewhere; you can offer them a new change. Like a wreath salad, pictured here.

#3 Move Your Feet!

Remember, exercise is NOT a walk at the mall. Keep your regular routine and find functional exercise, e.g., use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower; rake leaves; park further and walk; take the stairs, etc.

Reward yourself with vibrant health, not another Christmas cookie. Once you internalize the basics of an enjoyable holiday eating plan and get in tune with food cues, devise your own tips and tricks; share them with everyone you love.

By Susan Asanovic, RD.

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The post No Gain No Pain for Holiday Eating first appeared on Food and Health Communications.

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