Thanksgiving is probably a distant memory and hopefully by now you’ve recovered from your dietary indiscretions…or should I say pigging out. But Christmas is right around the corner, filled with more rich hors d’oeuvres and temptation. Managing weight is difficult under the best of circumstances and can be especially challenging during the holiday season. There are just so many more opportunities for you to over indulge. The following 10 tips are designed to help you get through the holiday season sensibly – without deprivation or guilt.
Enjoy traditional holiday foods: Depriving yourself of special foods or feeling guilty when you enjoy them isn’t part of a healthy eating strategy. Forget the “all or nothing” mindset and enjoy small portions of your favorite holiday foods.
Slow down: Concentrate on eating slowly by putting the fork down between bites and savoring the taste and companionship during the meal. It takes at least 20 minutes for the stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. End result – eating slowly will help you stop eating before you feel bloated and stuffed.
Be selective: Choose to explore new taste and flavors, rather than waste calories on everyday foods, like mashed potatoes or broccoli.
Plan ahead: If you are invited to a party, call ahead for the menu. Offer to bring a dish you can enjoy without guilt. (See recipe below for Pumpkin Chocolate Yogurt) Schedule your exercise before you schedule other holiday activities. Be flexible and remember, if you don’t plan exercise time it won’t happen.
Step away from the appetizers: Upon arrival at the holiday party, place appetizers on a plate instead of picking on foods here and there. You’ll be less likely to overindulge! Then move away from the appetizers to avoid mindless eating.
Drink to your health: Instead of a second glass of eggnog for over 300 calories, try sparkling water, seltzer or diet soda. Coffee and unsweetened tea are calorie free. Champagne, wine and alcoholic drinks are high in calories.
Scan the buffet: Before you make your food choices scan the entire buffet. Choose small portions of food you really, really want. Use a small plate and leave plenty of space around your portions. Often just a taste will satisfy cravings.
Socialization is calorie free: Remember to enjoy other aspects of the holidays, such as socialization with family and friends, the spirit of the season, exchanging gifts, and holiday decorations.
Look your best: When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re less likely to seek comfort in food.
Burn it up: Balance the food aspect of the party with games or other fun activities. Plug in the Wii for a game of tennis or take a walk after the meal. Invite family and friends to participate. Physical activity will burn those extra calories from the holiday meal.
Pumpkin Chocolate Yogurt
Instead of pumpkin or sweet potato pie, lighten up your dessert table with this delightful, nutrient rich dessert. Pumpkin chocolate yogurt is a healthful way to enjoy dark chocolate. It isn’t made with excessive amounts of sugar and other ingredients that often diminish the health benefits associated with high-quality dark chocolate.
2 cups nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (canned is perfect)
4 T dark honey
2 to 3 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
One 4-oz cacao dark chocolate bar that contains a high percentage of cacao solids, grated
1. Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate in a large bowl and mix well to incorporate.
2. Portion the mixture into individual serving dishes. Divide the chocolate evenly between the servings and stir to incorporate.
Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 278; Protein: 13 g; Carbohydrate: 38 g; Fiber: 3 g; Total fat: 12 g; Sat fat 6 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 45 mg
— Recipe courtesy of Chef Richard A. Amster