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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
The holidays are a special time to share with friends and family yet so many people struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the season. Excessive food consumption, lack of activity, party commitments, travel and other stresses can take control and before you know it, you have gained some unwanted body fat or feel overwhelmed with obligations or the looming reality of the holiday season aftermath. Here are 5 simple healthy holiday eating tips and to survive the holiday food temptation.
1. Set A Personal Calorie Limit – Each day or before every party, commit to yourself a limit on calorie consumption. Take a moment to consider your favorite dishes, treats or traditional foods and get some information on approximate calorie values. This research will take very little time and there are dozens of great resources online that give details about the approximate calorie value of most foods. Decide how much you are willing to consume understanding that moderation is key. It’s perfectly normal and healthy to indulge occasionally during the holiday so don’t let the concept of overeating control your mood or outlook. Simply make a plan and stick to it as close as possible. You will feel the satisfaction of maintaining your personal commitment while limiting the days you overconsume. This will make the holiday far more enjoyable and you will have far less work to do on your figure when the season ends.
2. Choose Only Your Favorite Foods. – Now that you have a calorie goal, be picky about what you choose to consume and make it count. It’s the holidays and they are supposed to be a time of celebration and communion. Pick foods that are traditional to you or something you look forward to each season. Pass up the store-bought goods and reconsider that handful of generic candy. Instead enjoy a modest piece of grandma’s epic homemade pie or your cousin’s legendary scratch fudge. When it comes to the big dinner, go lite on the servings and have a modest portion of all your favorites. A great way to lower the calorie load is go easy on the mound of starches such as mashed potatoes and stuffing surrounded by an ocean of gravy or cut the pie serving in half. Remember, moderation is key and you truly can balance reasonable food intake while still enjoying the holiday.
3. Keep Active – One of the most important health decisions you can make year-round is to remain active. The holidays often pose a challenge because our schedules are usually altered and social calendars can be packed. However, it is very possible to remain active to a large degree no matter how full your week looks. Some useful ways to keep yourself active include attending a regularly scheduled fitness class, hire a personal trainer so you have an appointment or commit to a morning or afternoon walk on your own or with the family. Maintaining at least a half hour or better yet, an hour of activity each day will improve your mood, reduce stress and help balance the added calories you may be consuming.
4. Manage Your Alcohol Consumption – Many people enjoy the season with traditional cocktails or Champaign toasts. Again, moderation is key so just remember a few facts. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and they can add up quickly. Two glasses of sparkling wine can exceed 240 calories and two martinis can top 200 calories. A mug of spiked cider can even get up to 300 calories in some recipes. Aside from the nutritional side, alcohol also inhibits the release of glucose and this can alter blood sugar levels and metabolic rate. Not to mention, alcohol is a powerful agent in judgment impairment. Aside from the crude joke you tell at dinner, much to the horror of your mother, you may be more likely to forget your calorie goal or absentmindedly overindulge.
5. Commit to A Life Long Wellness Plan – Without question, coming into a holiday season with a defined, scheduled and committed plan already in place makes a huge difference. Those who have made commitments to their wellbeing often come through the holiday mostly unscathed and are right back into their normal fitness routines once the season ends. One-time resolutions are useless, as I’m sure you already know from you own experience. Success in health and fitness comes from a year-long personal commitment and positive habit. Wellness is a personal responsibility and taking action early and keeping momentum through all of life’s seasons makes navigating the holiday stress-free and rewarding.
Don’t let the bounty of the year or the holiday season be a stress. Follow the 5 steps above and stop the cycle!
Michael S. Parker
Forge Fitness & Nutrition Coaching
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