With the change of season comes a change in our eating and exercise habits – more food and less exercise. Holiday time generally means more traveling, eating and relaxing and less physical activity. By the time New Year’s rolls around we arm ourselves with resolutions to take off those extra holiday pounds and get back on the treadmill. But with a little advanced planning you can avoid the holiday bulge and save your New Year’s Resolutions for other goals.
Do maintain regular physical activity, even when you’re traveling. Staying physically active will help you ward off those unwanted holidays pounds.
- Walking is great exercise and is something you can do on city streets, down country roads, up stairs and even inside malls during inclement weather.
- Unable to walk? Spend a few minutes in the morning or evening doing yoga, abdominal crunches, pushups, leg lifts, or follow an exercise video.
- Try the 7 Minute Workout! Great, challenging workout in a short amount of time and all you need is a chair and a wall. (Google it.)
Don’t go hungry. When you’re going to a gathering where you know there will be a lot of food served – DO NOT arrive feeling ravenous. If you don’t eat enough during the day, thinking that you’re saving yourself for the party in the evening and then arrive there feeling so hungry that you could eat everything in sight – you just might! Don’t give yourself that chance. Eat small, healthy but satisfying meals throughout the day such as:
- Vegetable, tomato, or bean soups
- Salads topped with sliced turkey or ham or tuna mixed with plain nonfat greek yogurt instead of mayo. Dress the salad lightly with olive oil and vinegar.
- Cut-up fruit and vegetables with hummus or light string cheese.
- Plain nonfat greek yogurt with nuts and berries.
Do choose wisely. Once you arrive at the holiday party, scan the buffet to get a sense of what foods are being offered and decide which of the decadent goodies you would most like to have - then limit yourself to a small amount of each…but not everything.
- Watch portion sizes – you can always go back for seconds so your best bet is to start with smaller amounts. You might surprise yourself and find that you’re satisfied with less.
- Watch added fat and calories from foods like gravy, butter, cheese and cream sauces, and whipped cream.
- Load your plate with vegetables and other healthy choices such as sweet potatoes and whole grains such as wild rice.
- Choose the leaner protein sources such as turkey, baked ham and lean roast beef or brisket but cut off any visible fat and poultry skin and limit the gravy.
- Take smaller amounts of foods like stuffing and mashed potatoes.
So eat, drink and be merry – but in moderation, and stay physically active and you’ll be off to a great start for the New Year!
Allegra Burton, MPH, RDN
Nutrition with Allegra
Chapel Hill, NC