How to Avoid the Holiday Calorie and Commitment Trap
It’s Thanksgiving and a time to gather around a table with family and friends to share a meal. It’s a beautiful night steeped in tradition, flavors … and calories.
Next we roll into December which is replete with holiday parties, gatherings, cookie exchanges and calories, calories, calories. For many, this is an incredibly stressful time of year, trying to balance work and family, our check books and commitments, those favorite recipes and nutrition. For others, it’s incredibly lonely and can be alienating.
It’s no wonder holidays have become increasingly stressful for almost everyone. And though that homemade fudge and grandma’s rich garlic mashed potatoes are irresistible, by making a few adjustments on how we approach, and eat our way through, the holidays might be the difference between getting to January healthier or dragging ourselves, a bit beaten down, across the finish-line of 2016.
Here are 8 tips to enjoy the holidays without feeling weighed down by commitments and calories:
- Say no. This should be a fun time of year, independent of what you may or may not celebrate. So when a sense of dread overshadows excitement for things, step back, and say, “No.” Guilt-free. Simplify your schedule. You still need to be you during this time of year, whether that means going home to watch bad TV shows, taking your kids bowling, or going to the gym.
- Stick to the center of the room: Most holiday parties have a minefield of high-calorie treats around the parameter, on tables or at the bar. Stay at least an arm-distance away from the foods so you don’t absent-mindedly snack while you chat. This can save you, literally, hundreds of calories.
- What’s on your plate? Be mindful of what you eat. STOP. Stop, take a few seconds, observe your dish, and proceed. Taking these extra seconds to pay attention to your food, give thanks for what you have on your plate, and eat with purpose will save you calories later on. So many extra calories come from absent-minded snacking and eating.
- Pile your plate with veggies and salads: The bulk of holiday calories, sugars, and fats come from rich desserts, high-carb stuffing, scalloped and mashed potatoes, sauces and gravy. Look for fruit dishes and veggie plates, non-cream soups, meats without sauces, and other healthier options. Fill up on the good stuff and leave room for a decadent sliver of cheesecake or buttery roll.
- Beware of Beverages: Holiday beverages pack a high calorie punch! Egg nog, pumpkin spice lattes, hot buttered rum, hot chocolate, cocktails, wine and other drinks can add hundreds of calories to a meal. (A 16 oz pumpkin spice latte has over 400 calories). Drink water. If you want something more festive, drink sparkling water with a slice of lime. Don’t have your host top off your drink. And cut out the whipped cream to cut out 200 calories.
- Set a Challenge, Start a Tradition: It’s easy to push exercise aside during the holidays. But if you set a personal challenge (or, better yet, with an exercise buddy) to run or walk every day, you’re more likely to do it. Sign the family up for a Turkey Trot, Jingle Jog or any number of holiday-themed races to start a yearly tradition. Holidays can be about more than the food and Hallmark movies. Register for a race in January. The thought of running a half-marathon unprepared and with extra pounds is a pretty good incentive to keep up your exercise regime.
- Connect with your Community: Holidays can be incredibly lonely for some. Making emotional connections with causes – whether it be volunteering at a local food bank or heading a clothing drive at work – is a great way to feel part of the season and curb the anxiety and isolation. You matter. You are needed. You make a difference.
- ENJOY! It’s the holidays. Put down your calorie counter one meal, one party, to indulge in your family’s favorite recipes and traditions, flavors passed down from generation to generation.
We’re about ready to snowball into a month of holidays. It’s a great time take out the box of recipes and share traditions with your family. It’s also a great time to incorporate new traditions and recipes to make the holidays simpler, healthier, and full of joy and connection.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.