Eating Healthy for the Holidays

The holidays are a joyful time of year, surrounded by friends, family and food. It can also be the most stressful time of year, which can pose problems for your health and waistline.

One of the most effective tools to fight holiday weight gain is mindfulness. Emotions can drive one to seek comfort in treats from those stressors. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you celebrate the holidays:

Bring your own dish to every party

As a dietitian and healthy eater, I always make sure to bring a healthy appetizer or side dish to a party. That way, I know what ingredients I used and am comforted knowing that it is truly a healthy dish. It’s always a good idea to keep a list of some of your favorite dishes that travel well and you feel comfortable enough cooking to whip up quickly. Additionally, your hosts and fellow partiers will be grateful for a light and healthy dish to balance out the meal.

Let enough sleep

Lack of sleep is a huge willpower killer! You’re more likely to overeat, crave foods high in sugar, and not exercise! Make every effort to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and if that’s not possible sneak in a nap throughout the day.

Drink lots of water

Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you'll lower the risk of overeating. But if you couldn’t stop yourself it’s okay.

Be active

Always be sure to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of lying on the couch. Try not to let the guilt fester and add some exercise to your holiday season. Go out for a walk with the family, play football or get some yoga on the schedule. And always remember that the next day is a new day -- don’t let it be a downward spiral!

Don’t drink your calories

Alcoholic beverages CAN be very high calories. It is perfectly fine to have a cocktail or two at your holiday party, but if you aren’t careful it could easily add hundreds of calories to your daily intake. A few easy tips to ensure you keep your alcohol calories in check:

  1. Drink dry wine -- not sweet. Sweet wine typically has an additional 100-150 calories per glass.
  2. Use club soda as a mixer. Club soda pairs well with vodka or gin. Plus, you will be helping to rehydrate yourself to prevent a hangover. Lemons and limes can help flavor this mixer without adding calories, plus it will add a nutritional boost of vitamin C!
  3. Say no to adding juice, sports drinks, energy drinks or soda to any alcoholic beverage. They are a disaster at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays.

Always keep the “plate method” in mind

It’s essential to have some general guidance when going through the holiday buffet so fill up half your plate with vegetables and fruit, one quarter with lean protein, and another quarter with whole grains. And, the more colorful your plate, the better – so add lots of leafy greens, carrots, and bell peppers to the vegetable mix. Filling up on the lower calorie dense foods ensures a sense of fullness, but doesn’t add to the feeling of being bloated or tired after your meal.

Reduce stress with music

The holidays are loaded with stress, so lighten your load of stress by listening to soothing music. It can immediately reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Less stress leads to less cortisol -- making it easier to avoid the holiday weight gain.

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Research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the average holiday weight gain is about 1 pound. Although you may not think this is significant, that same research indicates that we never lose this one-pound. Rather, these pounds continue to add up year after year.

If you don’t want to worry about holiday weight gain, let Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating help you with freshly prepared, healthy, portion-controlled meals. 

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