11 Tips for a Healthier (& Happier!) HolidayArticle posted in: Nutrition
If you’re feeling nervous about the upcoming holiday and its impact on your waistline, you’re not alone. The holidays mark a time when many of us overeat heavy comfort foods, often creating a trend of bad diet decisions for the following winter. By incorporating some helpful, mindful eating habits, you can have a healthier holiday this year while still enjoying all your favorite festive foods. Remain on track with your healthy lifestyle and follow these simple tips to survive this holiday season with a happier and healthier approach!
Feast healthier this holiday season with these 11 tips:
1. Stick to your normal eating schedule.
Wake up on the day of and eat breakfast as you usually would to jumpstart your metabolism, and depending on when you feast, you should probably eat another small healthy meal or snack again before the main event. This way, your body will be attuned to your normal eating schedule thus inhibiting your ability to overeat or go for seconds during dinner. One study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a lowered risk for obesity in participants who ate breakfast along with smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This simple tip of keeping your routine can lead to a healthier holiday and will keep you on track with your weight loss goals.
2. Work up an appetite.
If you want to indulge on Turkey Day with a little less guilt, make sure to stick to your normal fitness routine the day of. Not only will a workout help you work up your appetite, but eating within two hours of working out can help your body replenish lost nutrients and aid muscle restoration. If you complete a high-endurance activity, you’re allowed some stuffing and a healthy helping of turkey because your body will need these carbs and protein to replenish glycogen stores. Try South Beach Diet’s Thriving Thursday Workout to get your body moving!
3. Avoid alcohol, drink water.
At South Beach Diet, we recommend avoiding alcohol when you’re trying to watch your weight. In fact, it’s best to stick to water this holiday to ensure you are staying hydrated while possibly “indulging” in a few extra calories. Filling up on water can also help overindulging during your meal. Since you know you want to have your turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and probably some other sides too, you be sure to skip the overly sugary cocktails and sodas. If you do want to celebrate the holiday with a drink, be sure to stick to dry wine or a light beer!
4. Offer to cook or cleanup.
Whether you’re staying home or traveling for the holidays, you should try to stay active throughout the holiday to keep yourself from picking at the available snacks and apps before the main feast. You can easily keep yourself busy if you offer to help prepare the meal, set the table or entertain guests as needed. When you’re finished your meal, avoid seconds by getting up to clean your plate and anything else ready for the sink.
5. Fill up on fruits and veggies.
Make sure to reach for fruits and vegetables whenever you can, including baked string beans, sweet potatoes, low-fat cranberries, fruit salad and any roasted veggies that are available. Research published in Advances In Nutrition explains that eating fruits and veggies is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle and can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity—due to their large fiber content. But remember, on the South Beach Diet, fruit is extremely limited due to the higher net carb content. Make sure to keep your net carb intake within your 50 gram limit!
6. Eat slowly.
Many of us were scolded growing up for scarfing down our food too fast, and that parental advice is still valid. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that people who ate meals at a moderate pace (over the duration of 30 minutes as opposed to five) had increased satiety and increased production of healthy gut hormones, which promote digestion. Eating at a normal pace will ensure you enjoy your company and engage in conversation, as well as help you refrain from overeating or developing a stomach ache after the meal. So for a healthier holiday, enjoy your holiday meal slowly!
7. Skip condiments and add-ons.
There are some simple ways you can remove hundreds of calories from your plate. While you may be tempted to overload your dish with every offering, if you do this, you need to cut back somewhere. Don’t add an abundance of gravy to your turkey since it’s usually made with fat drippings and full of calories. Avoid any extras that may be available such as buttered rolls and creamy dressings. Season your meal with herbs and spices and try to be mindful of everything you pile on your plate since it all adds up!
8. Focus on family time.
Despite how it sometimes seems, the holiday season isn’t all about eating, so don’t forget what really matters. If you keep your focus on family and away from food, you may be able to survive the holiday without adding any numbers to the scale. Try catching up with relatives, get games going with younger family members and make sure to offer help wherever it’s needed. Stay on your feet before the feast and focus on sparking conversation at the dinner table so you can spend less time loading your plate and more time making mindful eating choices.
9. Say NO to seconds and thirds.
Most people make enough to feed a village for a holiday meal, enabling guests to eat at will almost endlessly. Stick to the main meal and try everything you want to at the dinner table, then put your plate in the sink. If you’re going to partake in foods full of calories, fat, sugar and carbs, you’ve got to at least adhere to single servings. Again, if you know you’re not going to decline dessert, forgo any extra helpings of turkey or stuffing.
10. Bring a healthy dessert.
Try to choose the healthiest option available for dessert or even bring your own fruit plate to satisfy your craving for sweets. If you have to indulge, make sure to get a single serving of pie and decline any whipped cream or add-ons. You can also try our recipe for an Apple and Almond Soufflé to enjoy a festive and delicious dessert for just 150 calories!
11. Leave the leftovers.
If you find yourself being offered leftovers, simply and politely decline. You’ve most likely tried everything you wanted to, and leftovers never taste as good anyway. If you’re the host this holiday season, make sure to send the leftovers home with other guests and family members so you can start the next day with a clean slate (and fridge) without any tempting turkey-day leftovers. This way, your efforts toward a healthier holiday will remain on track.