Have your cake and eat it too

November 28, 2017 Providence Health Team

Learn savvy ways to stay healthy during the holidays.

When you think about the holidays, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? If you’re like us, we think about spending time with family, seeing old friends and enjoying some amazing meals. But there’s a catch to all of this merriment, and that’s the seemingly unavoidable holiday weight gain.

It’s tough to say no to home cooked meals, and even harder to avoid yummy snacks at parties. Then comes New Year’s, and we all work to incorporate a new fitness regimen into our routine to make up for our past indulgences. So how about we skip the post-Christmas guilt and try something new this year by avoiding those extra pounds in the first place?

Here’s how to do it:

  • Opt for family-style meals. A useful tip, whether out with friends or hosting dinner parties of your own, is to serve several large dishes instead of doling out individual portions. You and your guests will likely eat less because you’re sharing, and it turns a regular dinner into a sampling event that will fill you up without overdoing it.
  • Choose protein-packed foods. We love mashed potatoes, but some carb-heavy foods will just end up bloating you and leaving you craving more. Go for the proteins to satisfy your hunger and promote healthy muscle growth.
  • Sneak in a bite before dinner. This may sound strange, but if you have a healthy meal before your festivities, you are less likely to indulge. Choose a dish packed with fiber and protein to avoid binging on pumpkin pie and stuffing.
  • Bring your own food. Thankfully, Christmas potlucks and Friendsgiving are already trendy ways to celebrate that won’t sacrifice your health. Switch up the typical holiday meal lineup by bringing along a healthy dish of your own. Perhaps there is a cultural dish or family recipe you’ve been wanting to share?
  • Ditch the alcohol. Liquid calories can really add up, especially over the holiday stretch. If you’ve noticed you get hungrier after you drink, it’s no coincidence. When our bodies process alcohol, they can’t quite keep blood sugar levels balanced, which explains why we crave carbs and sweets. So, if you need to sip on bubbly, fruit-infused sparkling water makes an excellent substitute.
  • Lay off the seconds. Your grandmother’s cranberry sauce is legendary, but the reason why you want more of it is probably because your body hasn’t quite processed that it’s had enough. Wait around 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach before going in for seconds.
  • Use a smaller plate. Those buffets will get you in the end. A smaller plate not only tricks your brain into thinking you’re getting full portions, but it will also help you regulate the amount of food you’re consuming throughout the evening.
  • Put a limit on sweets. To avoid the need to go for a jog after eating your Christmas pudding, make sure you’re being selective with your holiday sweets. If there is a particular dessert you’ve been waiting all year to eat, go ahead. Just try to resist the urge to sample every pie on the table by filling up on fruits. Roasted pears and ripe berries can be just as delicious as any baked good.

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