Happy Holidays! It’s time to eat, drink, and be merry!
But worrying about gaining weight can put a damper on your festivities. If you want to be able to indulge without buying a new wardrobe, here are some tips:
- Start with lemon water. This guarantees that you are beginning your day in a healthy way and sets the tone for the rest of the day. Squeeze half a lemon into 8 ounces of warm or hot water. Make sure to drink this before eating or drinking anything else. Here are the benefits:
- Hydration. We lose a lot of water through breathing while we sleep, so we are dehydrated when we wake up. Lemon water provides immediate hydration.
- Energy boost. While studies offer differing opinions as to whether or not lemon water boosts metabolism, the combination of water and lemon provide important vitamins and electrolytes that increase our energy.
- Detoxification. Again, the information here is mixed. Some studies report that lemon water can work as a laxative. I personally find that to be true.
- Eat a healthy snack before a holiday dinner or party. This is one of my favorite strategies. If I think I might be tempted by unhealthy party fare or holiday goodies, I eat something healthy (and filling) first. I know that when I’m hungry, my willpower can go down the drain. My go-to snacks include carrots and hummus, nuts, or fruit. Of course, I still eat and drink when I’m there, but I am much more in control when my stomach has something in it.
- Fill up your plate with protein. Turkey and/or other animal or vegetarian/vegan protein alternatives are a great start. I love my sides (stuffing and sweet potatoes), so this is a good reminder for me, too. Protein is filling and usually healthier than the other stuff.
- Choose your favorites. Even after eating a healthy snack and putting a healthy portion of protein on your plate, there’s still room for more. And everything looks yummy, right? Why not take another look? Actually, we all have our favorites and indulging in them instead of everything is a good strategy. Here are some ways to make choices:
- Top three foods at dinner. At Thanksgiving, my favorite three foods are stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and a dessert. While I really like everything else (mashed potatoes, squash casserole, biscuits, etc.), I can live without them. Choose your top three choices, along with a good amount of protein, for holiday dinners.
- Drinks or nibbles at parties. Almost every holiday season has at least one party with “Happy Hour” options — drinks and appetizers/desserts. Decide ahead of time where you want to splurge. A friend of mine chooses to spend most of her calories on cocktails because she says they last longer. I am the opposite. I prefer eating my calories, and drinking one glass of wine, then seltzer or other no-calorie drinks.
- Really small portions. If making choices doesn’t work for you, just take a couple of bites of whatever you want.
- Donate your leftovers. Who doesn’t love holiday leftovers? But … sometimes the temptation to dig into leftovers is strong. Good news — there’s a way to avoid that temptation, without throwing food away. You can donate leftovers (even cooked ones)! Contact your local food bank or food charity service to find out if they accept donations of cooked foods. To find a local food bank, check out this list.
With a little planning and thought, you can enjoy your holidays without guilt. And start the New Year at the same size!