modeling health habits

Just Let Me Survive the Holidays…Happily!

The HealthGal Health Guide November 30, 2012
  • Most of the tips below could probably be part of a New Year’s resolution. However, if you decide to follow them now--even just a few--you just might avoid some weight gain during the next four weeks, be a bit more in control of your diet and your health, and certainly feel happier that your clothes still fit come  January 1. 

     

    Your health and waistline will thank you, and you will feel empowered to see that old habit can change, even in the face of many temptations.

     

    The basics 

    • Use smaller “everything” – plates, bowls, utensils and serving spoons, and tall, skinny glasses.
    • Pace your eating, cut food into smaller pieces, chew more, talk more, help serve others and clear dishes between courses. The point is to slow down your eating.
    • Make vegetables and fruit your primary choices; then take small spoonfuls of the other dishes.
    • Move away from the buffet. Bring a healthy dish to a party, and pick and choose your treats wisely.
    • Don’t go to a party hungry, dilute alcoholic beverages, and drink lots of water between courses.
    • Give away high-calorie leftovers.
    • Never abandon exercise – do some activity even if it’s a modified version due to travel or time constraints.
    • If you are entertaining, dim the lights and play soft music.  Consider serving on red plates. Both have been found to curb or slow eating.

     Lighter and healthier cooking ideas 

    • If it’s a bread appetizer, make it bite-size, which will help with portion control.
    • Use whole, unrefined grains as a base ingredient for appetizers and side dishes.
    • If it’s a dip, reduce the cream by using Greek yogurt or pureed tofu, or add beans or vegetables.
    • Try flavored vinegars, fresh-squeezed citrus juice and herbs to cut the fat.
    • Use recipe swap-out guides to reduce fat, salt and sugar in recipes.
    • Get creative with vegetable dishes. Fill peppers, roast root vegetables, do a quick stir fry, or bake potatoes and then scoop out the center, puree and season and re-stuff the skins.
    • Cream cauliflower or butternut squash instead of serving traditional mashed potatoes.
    • Use high-protein grains, such as quinoa, in side dish recipes.
    • Melt chocolate and have fruit dips for dessert.
    • Use fruit and nuts in baked goods to add a boost of nutrients.

    Avoiding food triggers

     

    • Drinking too much alcohol can cause overeating because your hunger and fullness signals become blunted.
    • The stress of hosting family and friends, or continuous entertaining can lead to emotional eating.  Be aware of this, and try to deal with your emotions without turning to food.
    • Handle stress by exercising or writing down your feelings in a journal.
    • Constantly tasting foods as you cook or as you’re wrapping up leftovers can add up to a lot of extra calories.

    Remember that the focus of the holidays is seeing family and friends, celebrating what you have, and the joy of giving.  Food is part of any celebration, but try to keep it from becoming the focus.