If you aren't already enjoying some wonderful holiday feasts, then you know that it is quickly coming up! Research suggests that we gain an average of two pounds over the holiday season, not counting any weight gain from the rest of the year. Since a healthy weight and diet is key to any healthy lifestyle and managing any health conditions, it is helpful to plan ahead to how you can enjoy your holiday meals without negatively impacting your weight and health goals. Here are some methods you can try:
Survey your options. When you attend potluck meals, buffets, or dinner events, take a minute to walk through and get an overview of everything available. This way, you avoid overloading your plate if you just get in line and start choosing food as it comes. Don't forget to consider appetizers, dessert and drinks. Follow the mindset of enjoying the few items that look the most appetizing to you and saving everything else for round two. You may find after your first plate that you're full and would rather save room for a bit of dessert, or that you just want a little more of your one favourite item instead of trying other side dishes.
Pause and Pace Yourself. It's easy to focus on all the delicious-looking food, but don't forget the other elements of your dinner that make a meal memorable and enjoyable: your company. Plan to eat slowly and in smaller portioned phases and make time to have conversations with the loved ones around you. Make it happen by letting a certain person there know that you would love to catch up with them after your first plate, or ask the host ahead of time if they could show pictures of videos of a recent trip halfway through the meal. This will give you enough time to digest and gauge how full you are so that you don't overeat.
Don't Drink Your Calories. Festive meals often come with rich beverages like eggnog, White Russians or celebratory drinks like wine, champagne or cocktails. However, these drinks can be one of the easiest ways to send your meal's calorie-count through the roof. Plan ahead and decide if you'd like to enjoy one drink with dinner and balance by keeping half your plate dedicated to vegetables instead of mashed potatoes and gravy. Alternatively, decide to enjoy your food and keep your calories lower by enjoying sparkling water with a lemon wedge, orange slice or splash of cranberry juice.
Plan Before & After. If you know that realistically, you will be indulging at Christmas dinner, then prepare and make it a reward by eating clean for at least a week up until that day. Drink plenty of water and exercise every day. Minimize the effects of your cheat meals by not taking any leftovers if you are a guest or not keeping any leftovers if you are hosting. Start the next day fresh with a walk and new, healthy meal.
Physically Remove Yourself. You know yourself best, and if you simply don't have the willpower to resist a second helping of pasta or pie and ice cream, don't stand or sit near the temptation. Keep busy by challenging friends and family to a game of charades before or after the meal, or ask your partner or someone else to go for a pre-planned walk with you immediately after the meal so that you aren't there to keep grazing and drinking.
Of course, always adhere to any dietary restrictions that a health condition or medication may have. We hope these gave you some practical ideas on how to have a great holiday meal in a healthier way.