It’s the most delicious time of the year! But why does it have to be the most damaging time of the year, when it comes to nutrition. Well, with a little sensible advice and an ounce of prevention, you can make it through the holidays without sabotaging your progress.
- Be Realisitic. Instead of trying to lose weight during the holidays, set a goal of weight maintenance. This is more realistic and frees you from the “all or nothing” thinking that sabotages healthy eating.
- Substitutions. When making holiday recipes, look for ways to make your creations healthier. Swapping low-sodium broth for regular broth, low-fat cream cheese for full-fat, Greek yogurt for sour cream, or whole-wheat flour for white are just a few options.
- Planning. The “most wonderful time of the year” also seems to be the most stressful, in terms of time management. However, a little planning can go a long way, and healthy eating does require a little pre-planning. Try not to arrive at a party hungry. Eat a light but filling snack (such as nuts, fruit, yogurt, string cheese) before arriving. Do not skip meals, try to stick to your normal meal plan.
- Moderation. Eating healthy does not mean completely avoiding every dish that looks delicious. If you want to have a piece of pie, by all means, put it on your plate! Exercise some portion control and select a small portion to try first; then reassess if you want to go back for seconds. Often our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and small samples of each item from the buffet usually add up to a full plate.
- Support. Chances are, you are not the only one who struggles with food during the holidays. Find a friend or family member who can share accountability with you.
- Balance. Keep your goals in mind, but don’t let them take over your social calendar. Remember that good nutrition is not about extreme dieting, sacrificing your favorite foods, or excluding yourself from the party to avoid temptation. Bottom line – enjoy yourself!
The journey to healthy living is a gradual one, made by implementing small but consistent changes in behavior. Pick one or two reasonable goals and do your best to reach them daily. Most of all, enjoy this season of celebration. The whole point of being healthy is to live well.