Oven roasted ham, handmade cookies and candy canes galore. December is a very delicious time of year. With Christmas, and a lot of holiday parties to look forward to, it can be easy to gain weight this time of year. Not to mention that most of our holiday comfort food is full of extra fats, sugars, salts and food allergens that we tend to crave. Below are 5 healthy variation tricks plus a bonus to get your holiday fix without the holiday pounds that go along with it.
1. Keep it Small.
When facing a feast, banquet, or buffet table, choose the smallest plate size possible. This will keep your portion sizes smaller. Scan the table for fruits and veggies first, the raw kind without added sugars, fats, and other ingredients. Try a large helping of these healthier foods. Then scan for your lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, or fish. With the room you have left, indulge in a small portion of one or two of your favorite go-weak-in-the-knees dishes. Try eating these last so that you get to savor the flavor after your appetite has been mostly satiated.
2. Don’t go Hungry.
Anytime we go without eating for a long period of time, we increase the risk of binge eating. Try to eat several small meals throughout the day, including healthy snacks. In addition to curbing your appetite, this trick helps keep your blood sugar stable and your weight under control. If you have an event to go to, try eating a high fiber snack before attending, such as raw fruits and veggies or even a bowl of oatmeal.
3. Never Start with Sugar.
Don’t start the day with a high sugar breakfast such as orange juice and banana bread. Spiking your sugar first thing in the morning can increase your food cravings throughout the day. Even though there may be more sweets around the house that tempt you, start with high protein, high fiber foods such as eggs and an oat bran muffin. Save a small portion of your sweet indulgence for the end of a meal as an extra treat.
4. Eat Healthy Sweets.
Try swapping your traditional sweets with a healthy variation. Instead of candy, buy fruit. Replace the sugar in holiday cookies with stevia. Avoid the holiday punch bowl. Try drinking tea or water with some fresh fruit thrown in for flavor and sweetness. If you do find yourself indulging in something sweet, combine it with fiber and protein to help keep your blood sugar stable.
5. Get Moving.
Try some light exercise after you indulge, like walking, stretching, or some yoga positions. This will help speed up your metabolism, jumpstart digestion, and get your body using the extra calories. In fact, try to find ways to increase your activity every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car farther out in the parking lot and walk in. Try walking a few laps in the store while doing holiday shopping. Increasing your metabolism with exercise is one of the best ways to counteract the extra calories.
Be Careful of Food Allergens. It can be easy to go off our food allergy diets, especially with wheat and dairy, during the holiday season. Going off our food allergy diets can make you feel bloated, inflamed, sluggish, and tired. If you have special food needs, make sure to plan ahead for any festive gathering. Your hosts may not even know what gluten-free means. So, be sure to bring your own healthy variation that you can eat in case there is nothing else available.