November Issue Lehigh Valley Style Magazine
BY SUSAN BIANCHI, MS HEALTH & WELLNESS COACH
Eat, drink and be merry! The battle cry for the holiday season doesn’t mean your waist size has to pay the price. With gatherings to attend and decadent cheesy, gooey, sugary treats lingering around the house, it is easy to stray from your normal eating patterns and pack on some extra pounds. However, gaining weight over the holidays doesn’t have to be your destiny. Here are a few simple tips to fend off those pounds and still enjoy the season.
Bringing a dish to a party allows you to control the ingredients of the dish and ensures that you can have a healthy option to snack on at the party. Healthy can still be tasty. Making a plate of roasted vegetables or a grilled chicken satay can provide a flavorful, simply prepared dish that tantalizes the taste buds without adding to your waistline.
If you are hosting the party, be mindful that most everyone is fighting the holiday bulge. Help your guests stay healthy by using small plates and thinking flavorful spices over creamy sauces and cheese-laden dishes that quickly add the extra calories and unwanted pounds. If you can’t resist, keep the decadent dish to just that—ONE dish.
Chocolate martinis, White Russians, eggnog cocktails: These can easily add up to 400-plus calories per glass. Keeping your drinks clear and simple can save several hundred calories per glass. A five-ounce glass of wine, a gin and tonic or a flavored vodka with seltzer are all under 200 calories. Remember, alcohol slows your metabolism, so be mindful.
Alcoholic beverages aren’t the only culprits. Holiday-themed coffee and tea beverages are often laden with empty fat and sugar calories. What may seem like a simple morning or afternoon coffee treat could be adding the equivalent of two extra meals to your day, all in a few innocent sips. Skip the syrups and whipped cream and opt for extra cinnamon and nutmeg to add spirit to your drink.
For your next social event, commit to drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. Sparkling water with an orange slice or lime can still feel like a cocktail. Not only does this slow down the alcohol intake, but it also helps to combat dehydration and a potential hangover, as well as helping you feel more full. Inhibition and judgment get quickly altered with alcohol, making good food and drink choices more challenging, so slow down and drink between drinks.
For your next social event, commit to drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. Sparkling water with an orange slice or lime can still feel like a cocktail.
One of the biggest challenges of the season is the “carryover effect.” You’ve just had an evening of drink and food indulgence. Mentally you know you have splurged, so it’s easy to slip into the mindset that a little splurge the next day won’t matter. This starts the carryover effect where one day of slack leads to the next until you have let most self-control go until the proverbial start of the new year.
To stop the carryover effect, commit and plan your “day-after reboot” ahead of time. Have your detox meals set for the day, ideally already prepared, and stick to them. Tell yourself it is only one day, but that one day will help to reset your system. Stay away from carbohydrates, sugars and sweets. Having clean meals of veggies and protein or veggies and broths will be sure to get you back on track and feeling motivated.
Being vigilant with exercise during the holidays can be challenging. Errands, events and party hangovers can provide ample excuses to skip your workout routine. Staying on track is vital, so don’t go it alone. Enroll a conscientious friend and schedule your workouts together as “can’t miss” appointments on your calendars. Create a contract you can each sign and commit to one another that you will show up. Keeping your fitness routine during the holidays will pay off dividends physically and psychologically.
Whether it’s a cookie tray or a table filled with appetizers in front of you, take a moment, pause and be choosy. It is tempting and easy to just fill your plate, eating mindlessly while socializing. In the process, you have not only consumed a substantial amount of calories, but you probably didn’t even notice how much you ate or what it actually tasted like. Instead, pause and ask yourself “If I had to choose one thing, what would it be?” Give yourself permission that you can return, and place the one item on your plate. Walk away from the table and take your time to actually taste and savor the flavor. You can return to the table, but continue to use the same philosophy of one thing at a time. By avoiding piling on your plate, you are sure to keep from overindulging as well as truly appreciate your host’s culinary efforts.
In most cultures, food is a means of expressing love. The holidays magnify that as trays of cookies and sweet breads make their way into offices and homes. This season, you may want to rethink your baking extravaganza. Food can still be a gift of love but try your hand at making homemade salsas, chutneys, dried soup mixes or light granola. Not only will you be helping your friends and family, but there will be much less temptation around for you. If baking treats is a requirement for you to be in the holiday spirit, try reducing the volume and substituting with some of the ideas mentioned.
This holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family, but that doesn’t have to derail your diet. Utilizing some of these simple steps can help make the annual New Year’s weight-loss resolution a thing of the past.