As the holiday season approaches, it’s easy to lose track of your goals. Friends and family gather and fill tables with rich, unhealthy foods. Feasts accompany parties and while a little indulgence here and there won’t hurt, consistently overeating adds up. For example, if you eat an extra 400 calories a day for about five weeks, you’ll gain an extra four to six pounds. That doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but the problem is that most people won’t shed those extra pounds post-holidays. Eating healthfully is part of a healthy lifestyle and once you start with unhealthy habits, it’s more likely that you’ll continue to do so. Rather than deprive yourself and jump right into the dreaded New Year diet, there are a few ways you can stay on track during the holidays. Here are a few of our favorite tips:
Don’t Skip Vegetables
While many people equate holiday dinners with unhealthy, carb-loaded foods, there are many recipes for delicious vegetable dishes. Plan to make a few of them and serve either at home, or take to a party you’re attending. Brussels sprouts recipes, healthy sweet potato dishes, and roasted carrots, cauliflower, and peppers are all great sides to accompany the main course.
Fill Up on Vegetables First
Since you’ll have made tasty vegetable dishes, eat those first and fill up as much as possible on them. Vegetables are high in fiber and will help you feel full faster so you don’t overindulge on the unhealthy holiday dishes.
Eat Smaller Portions
After your vegetables, try to eat small portions of the other foods. Don’t overload your plate; start small and then – if you finish your first serving – wait for a little. Your body doesn’t start to feel full until after you stop eating. Since it takes your brain about 20 minutes to get the signal that you’re full, you probably won’t be tempted to keep eating. If you want to try everything, that’s okay. Just make sure that you’re only putting smaller portions on your plate and avoid going back for seconds too soon.
Overeating is one of the main ways that people fail to stay healthy during the holidays. If you start to feel full, stop eating. You’ll keep getting fuller even after you put your fork down. If you feel like you’re going to pop, you’ve definitely had more than your fill. The “vegetables first” rule should help with this, as will savoring your food.
You also shouldn’t skip meals. Doing so disrupts your metabolism and makes it more likely for you to overeat when dinner is served, leaving you in an all too familiar “food coma.”
Savor Your Food
As you take each bite, savor it. Eat slowly and be mindful of what you’re eating. So many people rush through meals then crave more. When you take your time, you’ll be able to enjoy the flavors of everything without needing more of it.
On days where you know you’re going to have a party or dinner, make sure you get active. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and hitting the weights for 45 minutes, but you should definitely avoid sitting on the couch all day. Try taking the family sledding/walking, go for a quick run, take the dog out for a walk, or even shovel or sweep your driveway.
Be Mindful During Dessert
You don’t have to skip dessert to be healthy – just be mindful. Have a small piece of your favorite thing and enjoy it. If you want to try everything, cut off small, bite-sized pieces to enjoy. If you’re trying to stick to your eating plan, offer to make or bring a healthy dessert to add to the table.
Talk a Post-Dinner Walk
Once you’re done eating, see if anyone wants to join you for a post-dinner walk. Walking helps your body digest after a big meal and has been shown to stabilize blood sugar. For a healthy alternative to passing out on the couch, head outside.
You don’t have to resort to unhealthy habits to enjoy the holidays. Try to stick to these healthy tips and if you overindulge a bit here and there, don’t be too hard on yourself. Diets fail when we restrict our eating, so brush it off and just get back on the saddle! If you’re interested in learning more tips on how to stay healthy and age gracefully, contact Atlas Health Medical Group today at 480-648-1534.