Holiday season is upon us and for many people that means family, friends, and food. However, between the office parties, family gatherings, and food-based gifts, it is common for people to ditch their diets and skip exercise. It becomes increasingly hard to make healthy choices when constantly bombarded with tempting options, which is why Americans gain more weight during the holidays than any other time of year. The holiday weight gain then usually leads to the subsequent New Year’s resolution to begin a new diet and start fresh after the Holiday season. At P4L we say – “Why not now?” Why wait until the New Year to be the best version of ourselves?
Here are a few tips to get you started in learning how you can improve your health immediately and successfully navigate this holiday season.
Start with planning your plate.
- Set aside time at the beginning of each week to plan and prepare meals. This technique will save you time, reduce stress, and make it less likely you’ll resort to unhealthy convenience foods when your schedule gets busy.
- Keep meals simple and remember what your plate should look like: half should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower); one fourth with lean protein (grilled chicken, fish, tofu, or legumes), and one fourth with whole grains (brown rice, quinoa or barley) or starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes). Using this plate method will help you create balanced meals that incorporate lean protein and fiber. Both protein and fiber take longer to digest and provide more sustainable energy.
- Remember, the balanced plate method applies to breakfast too! Start your day with a protein-rich healthy breakfast, such as Greek yogurt. Avoid energy zappers like refined grains and sugars (think of bagels and cream cheese), and don’t forget to include fruits and whole grains, such as oatmeal or whole wheat bread.
- At parties fill up a small plate with nutrient dense foods such as veggies, fruits and shrimp. Allow yourself to choose your favorite foods in moderation, but be careful not to overeat. Often times a small taste can satisfy your craving and prevent overeating later.
Be Mindful of What You Eat
- Pay attention to how and why you are eating throughout the day. Keeping a food journal helps with accountability and may help you be more mindful about what you choose to eat or drink and why. The goal is to teach you to respond to your body’s physical hunger, not external influences such as emotion, stress, or boredom. Recognizing when and why you are eating can ultimately lead to better food choices.
- If you find yourself reaching for food when you’re not hungry, get moving! Try walking around the block, dancing around the house, or drinking a glass of water. Exercise is wonderful for both the mind and body and will help you to feel more energized during the afternoon slump.
Instead of eating...
- Full fat dip or sour cream...try veggies with Greek yogurt based dip.
- Refined white flour...try whole wheat flour/bread products.
- A bread basket...try a shrimp cocktail.
- Dark meat turkey or ham...try white meat without skin.
- Potato chips with onion dip...try whole grain crackers with hummus.
- Full fat cheese...try reduced fat cheese.
- Candied nuts...try roasted or lightly salted nuts.
Learn more about Erin here!