This is the time of year when many of us surrender to the notion that we just may pack on a few pounds. We’re super busy, there’s rich and fattening food everywhere we look, and the cold weather forces us to rethink our workouts. But you can maintain your figure (or stay on your diet) and enjoy yourself, too. Here are ten tips to help you plan ahead for a healthy holiday season.
1. Create a holiday menu that is lean on calories but maintains the tradition of the holidays. You’ll want to keep some of the dishes, however rich, that have always been a part of your celebration (otherwise, you may feel deprived). But balance these kinds of dishes with steamed vegetables and raw fruits, without creamy or buttery dips or spreads. Serve at least one variety of fresh vegetables and/or fruits with each meal. And always have a stock of fresh veggies for snacking.
2. Experiment with fresh autumn produce that you may not ordinarily buy, and have it readily available. As we have incorporated more healthy habits into our family celebrations, for example, we are starting to get a taste for the enormous variety of apples and citrus fruits on the market. Have a bowl of fresh clementines on your table for a centerpiece (these are so easy to peel that even small children can help themselves). Or try a dessert of fresh pomegranate.
3. Replace the bowl of mixed nuts with nuts that are still in the shell. You’ll eat far fewer nuts if you have to crack each one. And it’s fun.
4. Serve a green salad (with lowfat dressing) before each evening meal.
5. Experiment with different seasonings. When my food is seasoned with pungent fresh herbs, I find that I eat less.
6. Strive to stay hydrated. Purchase some fresh lemons and limes and add them to an attractive carafe to make your ice water look more appetizing. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after any big holiday meals.
7. Eat as slowly as you can. Put your fork down between each bite. Think of the meal not as a time to enjoy only the food, but a time to enjoy the rich sights and smells, and to savor each flavor of the season.
8. Excuse proof your workout. Because the holidays coincide with chilly winter weather, our normal exercise routines can take a double hit. The best way to stay on track with your workouts is to make sure to incorporate exercise activities that you genuinely enjoy: A brisk walk with visiting family members, for example, or a new spinning class that can reinvigorate your routine and get you motivated for fitness again.
9. Get enough sleep. This is a busy time of year, but when you get enough shuteye, you’ll be better able to make healthy choices, and you’ll be less likely to crave the quick energy that is delivered via caffeine or a chocolate bar.
10. Think of the holiday season as a time to give everyday gifts to yourself. Enjoy each relationship and holiday party as a time to revel in the season and to enjoy the simple things that are all around you.