No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.Tony Robbins
Good Food, Good Mood!
Three weeks ago, I started incorporating plant-based food into my diet. And I am here to admit that it hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It takes more effort than I had envisioned to plan these meals, and get certain ingredients that may not be as readily available at the store down the street. But you know what? I feel much better for it. My mood is better. I feel less bloated. And I’ve lost five pounds.
Then there was last week when I fell off the wagon due to some stressful situations and lack of time and opportunity to cook at home. (And yes, that pumpkin cheesecake a couple of weeks ago sure didn’t help. Darn those national day inspirations.) It happens to all of us from time to know, I know. How we react and recover is what sets us back or sets us apart. This week I am back on track!
The holidays are fabulously festive times in our lives for enjoying ourselves sometimes to excess. I think friends and family and food are to blame for the tightening of our jeans. Or just maybe, we are the ones responsible for throwing caution to the wind and entering feast-mode. There’s the very, very, very full plate at Thanksgiving, followed by the 25 days of Christmas cookies with baking starting December 1. And then we shake, rattle and roll our way figuratively and literally into New Year’s Eve. Whew, I think I gained 10 pounds just thinking about it.
Then January 1, we all aim to recommit to health, put away our stretchy pants, and load up our plates with nutritious food. But why should we wait until then to make these positive behavior changes? It’s only going to be harder if we spend the next 60 days partying like it’s 1999.
Many of our holidays may look very different this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you do gather with others, sticking to the following tips may assist us all in avoiding those extra holiday pounds.
Eat Healthy Snacks Before Events
This one is key! Before any big event, it is a great idea to eat something small before you arrive. It’s important to prevent arriving at the event completely famished as this will only compel you to make impulsive and unhealthy decisions, often leading to overconsumption. Aim for a balanced snack. My nutritionist recommends some of the following: a protein shake, an apple with one tablespoon of nut butter, carrots and peppers with two tablespoons of hummus. Or drink a glass or two of water or tea before eating.
Limit Liquid Calories
Celebrations around this time of year often contain many alcoholic or sweetened beverages. You do not need to refrain from drinking altogether, just aim to stick to a drink or two per event. These drinks are very high in calories, sugar, and carbohydrates. Opt for a lower calorie option such as a moscow mule or vodka soda. This is the one rule that I need to paste to my party blouse as a reminder!
Start with Vegetables
Once at the event, seek out the veggies. Most gatherings will have some form of vegetables on the table, whether that is a simple raw vegetable tray, roasted vegetables, or a veggie-packed salad. Before you dive into the rest of the offerings, aim to fill up on some veggies for a nutrient-dense and fiber-packed option. Try to fill half of your plate up with vegetables! And yes salad counts as a vegetable!
Use Smaller Plates
When sitting down for a formal meal, be sure to grab a smaller plate. Most plates are oversized and too large for one serving. By using a smaller plate, you will prevent yourself from serving yourself too much food, thus overeating during the event. If smaller plates are not available, aim to fill just the center of the plate.
Aim for Balance at Each Meal
Balance is key. Sugary drinks, baked goods, and refined grains are plentiful. These foods can lead to a blood sugar spike, followed by the dreaded blood sugar crash. By aiming to build a balanced plate: one composed of half a plate of vegetables, one fourth of the plate with healthy protein and one fourth whole grains, you will become satiated without experiencing the post-meal snooze. Balance also ensures you are consuming some vitamin-rich healthy food while you are out.
Slow down! This is not a race. Certain people in my life have repeated this to me over and over and over. This is another principle that I have to make a conscious effort to follow and eat more mindfully. Be present with those with whom you’re celebrating and partying. Most of us eat much too quickly. Fast eaters are often overeaters, as it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full. By slowing down, you will avoid overeating.
During this time of year, it may be easy to throw out your healthy habits with the intention of starting fresh in January. But more than ever, this season requires frequent physical activity. Constant exercise will help combat the extra calories consumed at the many events. Bring family along for a brisk walk or play sports at a park. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Helpful hints: Park your car at the far end of the lot when shopping. Or challenge the kids to a snowball fight in the backyard. You can even create a family fitness challenge. Let each member pick a non-equipment exercise such as jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups, push-ups. Go head to head to see who can knock out the most reps in a set time frame such as 1 minute!
There you have it. Seven simple strategies for avoiding that “gobble til you wobble” feeling. The holidays can still be a great time of enjoyment for you with your loved ones.
And Happy 2021!
Can it come soon enough?!