Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Patrika Tsai Health Guide
  • I confess that my favorite part of the holiday season is all the wonderful food and drink that magically appears everywhere. Cookies show up at the office. Holiday candy is all over school. The heavenly smell of pies and cakes fills the air. However, these seasonal treats wreak havoc on the most dedicated attempts to maintain a healthy diet. The key to surviving the holidays is damage control.

    The first thing to remember is that it is certainly not the end of the world if you overindulge. What it does mean is that you may need to compensate at your next few meals. The most important thing that you can do is to listen to your body. How many times after a holiday dinner have you felt so full that you were actually uncomfortable? If you feel full, put the fork down and stop eating. Resist the urge to clean your plate. Cover your plate with a napkin if necessary. Many of us have grown up listening to our parents tell us about the starving children in various developing nations. It is now our turn to tell them that obesity is now becoming a greater problem than malnutrition all over the world, even in developing countries.
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    Remember to stay hydrated. The holidays are often accompanied by champagne, holiday-themed cocktails, and other alcoholic beverages that are dehydrating. Try drinking a glass of water before heading to the party. The water will help keep your body refreshed as well as fill you up a little bit so that you do not attack the appetizers the moment you arrive.

    Many holiday drinks also pack a heavy dose of calories. Some drinks may even have the same amount of calories that you would normally eat in one meal. Extra calories translate into extra pounds whether they come from food or from drink. Try switching to water, sparkling water, or a diet soda after that first drink to keep those extra hidden calories at bay.

    If possible, try to survey the buffet offerings before you get in line. This strategy will help you decide which items you really want and which ones would be acceptable to do without. If it does not get on your plate, you will not be tempted. Avoid fried foods and cream-based soups, sauces, or dressings. Get a good helping of salads with fruits and vegetables, but minimize the pasta-based ones. Pick steamed, baked, grilled, or roasted vegetables and meats. Try to choose fish or lean meats like chicken rather than fatty meats like steak.

    Many of us have a tendency to get a sample of every single item in the buffet. It is particularly important to exercise control of portion sizes, especially while you are getting the food. Keep in mind that a serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards. If you want that piece of prime rib, turkey, and salmon, the best option would be to choose just one. However, if you must have a bit of everything, ask for a very small piece so that you have a reasonable portion of meat when you add everything up. The same is true of the side dishes. Take only half or even a third of a normal serving size of each side dish so that you can taste everything yet end up with a normal amount for dinner.

  • Skip the seconds whether it is appetizers, the main dinner course, or dessert. It helps if you avoid being near the food table. Enjoy the rest of the evening catching up with friends and family. After all, that is what the holidays are really supposed to be about.
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Published On: December 05, 2006