Whether you’re ready for it or not, the time of year has arrived. Come the holiday season, the temperature gets colder, the days get shorter and your clothes seem to get tighter. Statistics show that Americans can gain anywhere between 1 and 10 pounds during this time of year, not to mention the average 4,500 calorie feasts we consume on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
While you all may be sweating it out for 90 minutes during your Bikram Yoga class, you still want to be mindful of the choices and goals you set for yourself this upcoming season. One recommended goal would be to try and maintain your current weight rather than focusing on losing weight at this time. It can become extremely difficult to resist temptations all around the holiday table, but there are simple steps you can take that can keep the extra pounds off.
One of the most effective ways to burn off those extra calories is to engage in regular exercise. Kick up your usual routine and take one extra Bikram class each week! Other ideas on how to get moving include:
Using a stationary bike or treadmill
Taking a 30 minute brisk walk after your meal
Fill up on Fruits and Vegetables
Making sure you consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great solution to helping you feel full without boosting your caloric intake. When comparing fruits and vegetables to other snacks such as cookies, potato chips, crackers and candy, fruits and vegetables not only contain less calories but they have more nutrients. One nutrient in particular is fiber which will help fill you up faster.
Before you head to your holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit, low fat yogurt, or a handful of almonds. When you arrive at the party, you will most likely not over-indulge on the high calorie, high fat hors d’oeuvres.
In addition, if you’re going to a potluck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share. This way you’ll be guaranteed to have at least one healthy choice on the table.
Make positive choices
Using a smaller plate for appetizers will help you from over eating the fried, high calorie foods. Try not to go back for seconds during that time as well. For dinner, try to fill half of the plate with salads, greens and/or vegetables, one quarter with lean protein, and the final quarter with a complex carbohydrate such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. Other tips on cutting calories at dinner include:
Avoiding sauces made from cream or half and half
Use oil and vinegar for salad dressing in place of a creamy dressing
Try to restrict your alcohol to one or two servings, and choose a glass of wine over high fat eggnog.
As for dessert, the best low calorie choices would be fruit, pudding, ginger snaps or even angel food cake. If you must indulge in a dessert higher in calories, limit yourself to one small piece or thin slice of cake.
Remember, the holidays are really about celebrating with family and friends, not food. Be sure to enjoy yourselves and plan effective strategies to help achieve your goals. Happy Holidays!
Laurie Taunton MS R.D.