The key to handling the holidays healthfully lies in balancing your lifestyle during this particularly busy and potentially stressful month. Balance means "to bring into harmony". Let harmony be your guide this month: whenever you don't feel right, stop for a moment and assess your actions and thoughts over the last few hours or minutes. Tune into what wasn't in harmony with your goals, what threw you out of alignment with your plan.....
Our goal is to balance diet and exercise and our mental, emotional and spiritual state. To do this, we need to have a clear idea about what will support us in each of these areas and what won't. Here are some suggestions for each critical area that effects our sense of well-being.
(1) Forget about losing weight between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Be realistic: few of us are "nutrition saints" during the holidays. And let's face it, those sleek new party dresses won't look so great with any extra padding! Make maintaining your present weight your dietary goal for now. Concentrate on the following tips which will empower you to feel your best during the holidays....and make weight loss much easier to implement in January!
(2) Never skip a meal, especially during the holidays. This may induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and set up uncontrollable food cravings. Eat something every 3 hours. Small, frequent meals are best for managing hypoglycemia. Focus on high fiber foods which release their energy over several hours instead of just minutes.
(3) Fill up on complex carbohydrates. These are the fiber-rich foods which keep you full longer and take more energy to digest (and therefore burn more calories). High fiber foods are fresh veggies, whole grains and beans, and whole fruits (rather than juices, which have had their fibrous pulp removed, leaving only the sugary juice).
(4) Bring the host or hostess a food gift that will support your health,when attending a party. Feel free to check with the hostess first if it seems like a more formal party where this may be inappropriate. If you suspect there will be no "healthy" options there, then eat before you go.
(5) Survey the table of food and quickly rate each dish on a scale of 1-10. "10"s are low in fat and high in fiber, "1"s are the high sugar, high
fat foods that are the curse of your holiday health plan.
(6) Give yourself "elf portions" when filling your plate. You can always go back for more.
(7) Eat slowly! Remember, it takes 20 minutes for enough food to fill
your stomach to tell your brain it's full. No wolfing your food!
(8) Chew your food well. It's lousy for digestion to have partially chewed food entering the stomach and it's no fun being at a party with a stomach-ache. Right? Besides, it's totally unattractive to be shoveling food while carrying on a conversation!
(9) After you've filled your plate, move away from the food table. It
is too easy to continue to snack you're when lingering around the food.
(10) Keep a diet diary for one week of the holidays. Record
everything that enters your mouth. Check it over (objectively), to see that
it's really supporting your plan.
(11) Reduce caffeine intake! Caffeine is a drug that is a central nervous system stimulant. It causes release of adrenaline, preparing us for an emergency. When it's used on a regular basis, it causes nervousness, irritability and anxiety (and potentially other, more serious diseases). So, when it's already a time of year when stresses mount, why aggravate the situation by having extra coffee, tea, cappuccino, colas and chocolates? Limit yourself to no more than one serving per day of one of the above.
(12) About alcohol.....
* Never drink it on an empty stomach. Alcohol on an empty stomach
goes right to your head, decreasing your will-power and common-sense. Grab a bottled water as soon as you get to the party and then look over the food and drink.
* Be sure to count each drink. Keep a little alcohol calorie count going in your mind. They really add up to trouble when over-consumed.
* Space your drinks. Having only one drink per hour will keep it from building up in your blood.
* Have a designated driver who limits his or her alcohol intake
or avoids it altogether.