How to Feast During the Holidays Without the Guilt
posted by Cassidy Silversmith, Health Education Specialist | November 18, 2015
For many of us, it’s hard to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, but holiday celebrations don’t have to sabotage your health. With a few tips, you can satisfy your cravings for once-a-year favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free holiday season.
To shave off calories, use discretion when adding gravy, butter, cheese, nuts, cream sauces and whipped cream. You can even offer to make a healthy dish to bring to a party. Many recipes call for more sugar and fat than is needed, so be kind to your waistline by considering using these substitutions:
Be aware of product labels with words such as “natural,” “10 percent more,” “now with more fiber,” “made with less sugar” and “fat-free.” Although these claims are true, what they aren’t telling you is in most cases, they have increased other areas of the formulation to bring back flavor that was lost during the making of the product.
Sometimes this means there is an increase in sugar and/or sodium, especially in fat-free and low-fat products. Remember to cook smart!
Wearing some snug-fitting attire may help you avoid overeating, since you’ll be focused on keeping your stomach pulled in and be more aware of when you’re getting full. Eat until you are satisfied, not until you are uncomfortably stuffed.
This may help curb your appetite when you’re cooking, or when you’re trying not to dive back into the buffet for seconds or thirds—or fourths.
If you don’t love it, don’t eat it! Survey foods first before loading your plate, and select reasonable-sized portions of the dishes you can’t go without and skip the everyday dishes. Police your portions; you’re not obligated to sample everything! Be sure to eat slowly and savor every mouthful.
On the day of a party, always eat normally. Skipping meals to save up calories usually leads to overeating. Having a small, nutritious breakfast with protein and fiber can help give you more control over your choices at parties. If you end up overeating at a meal, go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal consumption to gain one pound.
Try and get family and friends involved with an activity other than eating at a party. Go sledding, ice-skating or build snowmen, if the weather permits. Take a walking tour of decorated homes. If you are staying indoors, play board games, interactive video games or charades. You can also participate in a turkey bowl competition, make cards, wreaths or a gingerbread house.
Staying well hydrated can help you distinguish if you’re still hungry or if you’ve had enough. Try drinking a glass of water before eating, waiting twenty minutes, and then drinking another glass during the meal and another glass after eating. Water keeps you full so you won’t go back for more, and is a great alternative to high-calorie beverages.
Lingering at the table may tempt you to continue eating, even if you’re not hungry. Offer to clear the table, do the dishes or take a walk.
Exercise is a stress reliever and helps prevent weight gain. Increase your daily exercise to help offset increased holiday eating. Participate in a 5k, holiday run or walk—such as a turkey trot.
Don’t beat yourself up if you do splurge at a party. Resolve to do a better job next time and get back to normal eating and exercising. With the holidays bringing busy schedules and so many temptations, it’s a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss. If your goal is weight loss, we applaud your ambition and wish you luck.
Cassidy Silversmith graduated from Utah Valley University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education. In 2013, she went on to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She currently works in the Wellness Department as a Wellness Assistant.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.