The holidays are now upon us! This can be an exciting time for many of us; family, friends, parties and yes, FOOD, and usually, lots of it! Sweets and high fat foods are everywhere; candy on the desks at work, tempting displays of high calorie treats in the malls, and huge dinners fit for Henry the 8th, at every home you visit!
In years past, I have read numerous articles about how the average American puts on approximately ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
At Freedom of Fitness, we teach people to eat healthy as a lifestyle, thus the slogan, “It’s a lifestyle, not a life sentence!” We encourage people to eat “foods that they can see in nature” most of the time, not the man-made processed and refined foods that we see covering the shelves in the markets, today.
However, we should be allowed to give ourselves permission to “treat”, occasionally, in moderation. Most would agree that treats seem to be part of our holiday festivities.
Here are some strategies for enjoying the food of the season without adding the unwanted weight that many of us end up carrying into the New Year.
- Minimize or avoid adding unnecessary fats to foods, when cooking. Most recipes do not really need as much butter or margarine as they call for so cut the amount of these fats in half or leave them out 100%.
- If you are making stuffing with eggs, use egg whites, instead.
- Try some of the low-fat gravies on your turkey, this year.
- When making cranberry sauce, boil fresh cranberries and add a sugar substitute (Stevia), instead of the real thing.
- Green beans are a common holiday vegetable, just put the white sauce on the side so your guests can choose how much they want to put on their food.
- Serving pumpkin pie? Use a low-fat or sugar-free recipe, this year. Some markets already have these on the shelves, ready to buy.
- Making yams? Instead of adding brown sugar and marshmallows to the recipe, garnish your yams with canned pineapple in it’s own juice and add cinnamon to taste.
- Let’s build a healthy holiday meal, using the “2/3rds Plate Rule”. One third of the plate should be lean animal protein, such as turkey breast. The other 2/3rds are carbohydrate. Put fruit and/or vegetables on one third of the plate. Cranberry sauce and green beans would seem traditional. The remaining one-third of the plate is comprised of starches and/or grains like yams, mashed potatoes or low-fat stuffing made with high fiber bread. Use the “little extras” in moderation (gravy, salad dressings, etc…).
- In addition to eating a balanced plate, practice “moderation”. On the Rate of Perceived Hunger Scale, “0” means extreme hunger and “10” means extreme fullness. We should begin eating at a “3” and stop at a “7” or an “8”.
- Minimize alcohol. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, make the next drink non-alcoholic and low calorie. This cuts the calories from alcohol in half and reduces the likelihood of being hung over.
- Eat healthy at home, before going to a party where you know high fat and high sugar foods will be served. This reduces the likelihood of over-eating.
- If you choose to eat an occasional dessert during the holidays, split it with a loved one instead of eating the whole thing yourself.
- Whenever you give yourself permission to treat in moderation, make a commitment to eat healthy, at the next meal or snack.
This holiday season, be kind to yourself! Nourishing your body properly is one of the highest forms of self-care. Give yourself the gift of health. This is a present that you will appreciate well into the New Year!