Get a grip - we all know this happens every year, so take the time now to develop a goal, a plan, and many strategies to keep your healthy lifestyle during the next several months.
Over the years, I have kept a running list of recommendations and suggestions I have read in other articles, added some of my own and thought it was about time to put them all together. So before you start the slide into the quagmire of temptations over the upcoming holiday seasons, take a few minutes to read through my list, think about the many ways that you can keep your holidays as healthy as possible, and start now before the pounds start to creep on.
Holiday Eating Strategies
(starts at Halloween through New Year’s weekend)
1. Start the “holiday season” leading up to Halloween - don't wait until the pounds are already showing up on the scale!
2. Keep the Halloween or holiday candy in the unopened bags someplace very unhandy, such as in the freezer in the basement
3. Do not buy your favorite candy (impossible but worth a suggestion!)
4. If you buy your favorite candy (I do), buy the smallest sizes and decide how many you will allow yourself for a special treat that night (I eat 1 small Butterfinger and 1 small HeathBar - I slowly slowly savor them on Halloween night - that's it!)
5. Any unopened candy is returned to the store the next day (yes!)
6. Any remaining opened candy is thrown away (yes!)
7. Keep a daily weight journal (yes, I do this every day anyhow because I use weight fluctuations to determine my own diuretic dosing to manage my congestive heart failure diagnosis, but it is especially important during this holiday time to keep those additional pounds from extra calories in and fewer calories burned from adding up to "too many, too fast"!)
8. Find ways to cut calories
- drink water,
- unsweetened iced tea and sodas,
- club soda,
- plain coffee or tea instead of sweetened specialty drinks,
- smaller portions,
- take your lunch to work
- limit alcoholic drinks to 1/day for women, 2/day for men (maximum!)
- See #11 below for reducing calories in your favorite recipes
- Exercise everyday, getting up earlier if necessary (yes, even in the dark!)
- Park and walk
- Always take the stairs instead of the elevator, especially for 1-2 floors
- Clean your house more often (ha ha!)
- Volunteer to be the family dog-walker and/or snow shoveler
- If you live in snowy and icy climates, invest in decent long-underwear and shoe grippers to make outside walking warmer and safer (Take the Swedish proverb to heart: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad coats” and I will add boots, hats, gloves, etc! Don’t skimp here!)
- increase fiber at each meal,
- eat a good breakfast every day,
- don’t skip meals,
- add a small amount of healthy fat to each meal or snack,
- eat a small snack before parties
- less sugar,
- skim milk instead of cream,
- broth or applesauce instead of oil,
- make portion sizes smaller,
- fat-free gravy,
- egg whites instead of whole eggs,
- more vegetables in all recipes,
- fat-free cream cheese
- reduce or cut out the salt sources from recipes or added salt at the table
- hot foods hot >140,
- cold foods cold <40,>
- use small portions on buffets and
- replace platters on buffets after 2 hours
- do not go to a party hungry,
- do not starve yourself all day before going to a party,
- drink a non-caloric beverage such as water or club soda to start,
- save your one alcoholic drink (calories, calories) for something special and after you have already eaten something,
- use a small plate,
- review all food available before choosing,
- think about how will this food or beverage nourish you (i.e., body or soul?)
- be choosy!,
- take very small portions of something new or a favorite dish,
- taste and decide if you really want to finish it,
- be prepared for pressure - it is ok to say “no thank you”!! when offered something,
- do not hang out at the food table - get your food and then mingle with and enjoy your family and friends in the rest of the house,
- always bring something to share that you know is both healthful and delicious
- choose which one food item you really want to have as a full serving - then consider taking half home to savor tomorrow, too.
15. Use daily (or minute to minute) affirmations - I can do this!, I can succeed!, My long-term health is worth more to me than ________ (fill in the blank), Yes, I can!
16. Each day is a new day to succeed! Don’t define or limit today or tomorrow’s success by “slip-ups” that may have happened yesterday.
17. Have fun making as many red and green food combinations as possible for dishes and/or garnishes by using:
- Red - cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, tomato sauce or salsa, red bell peppers, pomegranate seeds, red grapes, cranberries, strawberries, red onions, beets, red cabbage, red-stemmed kale or chard, raspberries, cherries, red grapefruit, red beans, red apples
- Green - all lettuces and other greens, green beans, various green cabbages, green onions, kiwifruit, limes, green grapes, green melon, peas, green apples, broccoli, green peppers, brussels sprouts, asparagus spears (some of these of course may be “out of season” or not available “locally” depending on where you live, but feel free to use them anyhow as special holiday treats)
19. Make an effort to have a full night’s sleep each and every night
20. Take the time for a daily stress-reduction activity that is enjoyable to you: i.e., meditation, yoga, spiritual reading, etc, etc.
21. Relax and enjoy the joys of the upcoming holiday season (family, traditions, smells, decorations, baking, gifts, etc, etc).
I doubt that most of these tips are anything new, but instead you will find that they are just a nice reminder of what we are all trying to do everyday anyway. However, I do hope that you will find something helpful in this list to cultivate the enjoyment of your life and health over the holidays!
What did I forget? Please let me know, and I'll add it to next year's list. Thank you! :-)
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"
Diana Dyer, MS, RD