How To Be A Holiday Health Warrior

With the holidays in full swing, it is easy to lose sight of our healthy eating goals.  It can be a real challenge to plan ahead or even have the time to prepare meals.  There is so much to do in so little time.  The holiday festivities involve parties, luncheons and gatherings, which can really tip your calorie bank into excess.  Some of the biggest overeating triggers are feelings of stress, being too busy and tiredness.  Unfortunately, we tend to be all of these during the holiday season.  The good news is that just by becoming aware of this “health trap, “ you are already taking the first step to avoid it.  Here are some effective strategies that can take some of the stress out of healthy holiday eating and keep you in control of your splurges:

  1. Prepare meals ahead of time and in bulk.  Plan to cook one or two meals on the weekends and make extra to eat again during the week.  Leftover grilled chicken breasts, pork tenderloin or shrimp are great in salads and are a good source of lean protein. 
  2. Dust off the slow cooker.  Slow cooking is a great time saver and is perfect for larger quantities.  Most supermarkets (Calvin’s, Whole Foods, Rouse’s) carry fresh meats, chicken and fish that are already seasoned and ready to go. 
  3. Prepare fresh fruit and vegetables for easy grabbing.  You are much more likely to choose healthier snacks, instead of a bag of chips, when they are already cleaned, diced and sliced.  For example, zucchini sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices and baby carrots paired with hummus or Greek yogurt dip. 
  4. Pack your snacks.  Do not get caught eating a quick, unhealthy meal or snack on the run.  Get into the habit of bringing an insulated lunch box with you.  Good choices to pack include: water, 2% cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, nuts, fresh fruit, turkey/lettuce wraps, Greek yogurt, protein bars, raw veggies/hummus.
  5. Plan ahead for holiday gatherings.  Never arrive at the event hungry.  The hungrier you are, the less control you will have.  Make sure that you have eaten your meals leading up to the event.  If you starve yourself during the day, psychologically you will allow yourself to overindulge at the event.  This is not a good mind game to play, and this will get you into serious trouble!  I recommend eating a light snack right before your festivities.  This will give you the control that you need to make good choices and keep your portions in check. 
  6. Be choosy about your splurges.  Don’t waste calories on fast food or comfort food when you’re busy checking things off of your to-do list.  That is not a time that will even enjoy what you are eating.  Save your splurge for special items that you may only get to enjoy during the holidays.  Also, remember that a little goes a long way.  It is the first few bites that we enjoy the most anyway so be skimpy on your portions.
  7. Stop, smell, and savor.  Slow down when eating.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full.  If you slow down, you will enjoy your food and eat less.
  8. If you have to order out…For the times that you really just did not have time to plan or prepare, these are some of my favorites: wonton soup from P.F. Changs (curbside pick-up), grilled chicken Caesar salad w/lite dressing and French onion soup from La Madeleine’s, chicken kabob/roasted veggies/salad dinner for four from Zoe’s Kitchen.
  9. Try a food swap in a family recipe.  My favorite food swaps that are trending now are substituting pumpkin for sweet potatoes and cauliflower for white potatoes.  It is a great way to save calories without compromising the taste.


Diets Don't Work!

If we put as much time and energy into our long-term weight management goals as we do into “quick-fix, fad diets” we would all be successful!

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