Caption: Setting and sticking to eating goals during the holiday season should be the litmus test to setting yearlong goals of better, more nutritional eating habits. / Courtesy photos
For millions of Americans, each holiday offers an opportunity to potentially fall off the healthy-living wagon and into a quagmire of sweets, alcohol, processed, or salty meals. Whether they come in the form of holiday gatherings, like Christmas, or reunions, cookouts, and birthday parties throughout the year, socializing often sets the table (pun intended) to the collapse of sensible nutritional intake.
But rather than lament the coming holiday season or become anxious about celebrations coming in the new year, The Informer has found a few proven tips to help you keep nutritional balance and good health at the center of each gathering:
Stick to Exercise Routines
One of the most effective ways to maintain body weight and ensure healthy eating is to maintain regular, sustained aerobic activity. Often when holidays or celebrations approach, already established exercise routines are abandoned, leaving our bodies open to faulty metabolism. The weight-gain many experience, is as much a function of not exercising, changing metabolic rates, and subsequently, gaining weight.
Control coming in contact with ‘tempting’ foods by avoiding trouble spots. For instance, if you live or work near a Krispy Kreme or have a co-worker who keeps a candy dish on their desk, pick a new route around them. Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations, and in dire cases, ask friends to “Keep me away from the birthday cake (candy dish, shrimp plates, etc.).”
Plan Ahead — Never to the Grocer or a Party Hungry
We’ve all walked into a grocery store hungry and walked out with unhealthy items we never intended to purchase. As the body looks to satisfy hunger, our minds dance toward comfort foods that are quick. The same holds true for partygoers. Hors d’ oeuvres often take the place of sit-down meals at parties and can be heavy in fat, salt, and sugar content. If you have not eaten beforehand, you may be tempted to keep packing up small treats until they amount to full, high calorie plates of food. Try eating a healthy snack (fruit, yogurt or granola bar) before a party to curb a rush for hors d’oeuvres. The same works for grocery shopping throughout the year.
Avoid Fried Foods
The general rule for healthy meal celebrations is 1) small portions, 2) loads of vegetables; and 3) No seconds. In instances where you serve yourself, pick a small plate used for appetizers for your main course. If only large plates are available, be sure to fill at least half of the plate with vegetable, and limit the amount of crackers, chips, cheese and meat. If fried items are the staple of the evening, opt for one small serving and do not go back for seconds.
Avoid the Sauces, Creamy Dressings
Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings. For salads, use oil and vinegar, vinaigrette or low-fat dressings. Broth -based or vegetable sauces are okay.
Focus on Socializing
Mingling and holding conversation are the easiest ways of avoiding poor nutritional choices at gatherings year-round. Nurse a single appetizer plate as you make your way about the room and make the people, rather than the food your focus.