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Written by Marcia Sivek

It is easy to overeat over the holidays. Food surrounds us at work, home and social gatherings. Sweets, comfort food, second helpings and holiday “cheer” are difficult to avoid.  I know everyone has their own way of coping, but below are some helpful tips that have helped me maintain my normal weight and keep my sanity over the holiday season. 

At Work and Home:

  • Promote healthy holiday snacks by bringing in fresh fruit and vegetables  instead of baked goods.  Include a lean or very lean protein for good measure. (Some good snack ideas at http://www.greenlitemedicine.com)
  • Socialize as far away from the buffet table or kitchen as you can, so you are not constantly looking at or smelling the food.  This will help reduce cravings and opportunities for seconds, thirds, etc.
  • Understand that you don’t have to go back for seconds or even eat the whole thing, whatever that thing may be.
  • It is important to keep up with your regular exercise program to help reduce stress.  Exercise pumps up endorphins (the brain’s feel good neuro-transmitter), improves mood and helps with sleep.
  • If you don’t have a regular exercise routine to reduce stress, try some relaxation techniques, such as, yoga, meditation, or get a massage. Practicing relaxation techniques not only reduce stress, but can help lower blood pressure, slows breathing rate and reduces muscle tension.
  • If you have a choice of foods at a work holiday gathering, grab small portions and choose healthy foods (lean proteins, veggies and fruit).
  • Try to sleep 7-8 hours a night.  Being well rested will also help maintain some sanity and help you keep up with all the extra activities that coincide with the holidays.
  • Avoid or limit exposure to those high maintenance friends and family members that normally stress you out, because they will likely stress you out even more over the holidays.  In this case, exercising does help reduce such stress.

Cocktail Celebration:

  • Volunteer to be the designated driver to avoid extra calories from alcoholic drinks.
  • If you choose not to drink but feel embarrassed to tell others you are not drinking…order tonic water with a lime, it will look like a vodka tonic!
  • Hold a calorie free drink, like sparkling water, in your dominant hand.  It can help you from grabbing appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and prevent mindless eating and extra calories.
  • If you choose to drink, limit yourself to a glass of red wine and drink plenty of water (a rule of thumb is to drink two glasses of water per alcoholic beverage).
  • Do not use alcohol as your escape from the stresses that pop up over the holidays!

Holiday Dinner Substitutions:

  • Substitute starchy white potatoes with cauliflower mash.
  • Make turkey the meat choice if there is one. Turkey (especially if you skip the skin) is lower in fat than ham or red meat. There are meat alternative recipes (such as those using tofu) if you want to skip meat all together.
  • Make green beans the vegetable choice; they are rich vitamin C, vitamin K (important in bone health) and manganese. They also contain a good amount of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Roast them and toss them in olive oil instead of the traditional green bean casserole with cream and butter.
  • Fresh cranberries are packed with vitamin C and also provide a fair amount of dietary fiber and manganese.
  • Sit next to someone who doesn’t stress you out so you can enjoy your meal, savor each bite and feel blessed for the food and company.

To give a helping hand this holiday season, the GreenLite team came up with wonderful holiday snack ideas for you to share with family and friends!

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