November 2006 Archives
The holiday season is traditionally about thankfulness and the celebration of life, unity, love, peace and harmony in the company of family and friends.
Unfortunately, holiday celebrations and food -- usually too much food -- go hand-in-hand. Not just any food, but traditional holiday fare rich in butter, cream and sugar -- mostly unhealthy empty calories -- that rob you of nutrition and can make you gain more than ten pounds in just a few weeks. Between office parties, family gatherings and the fatty, sugary nature of holiday foods, you may find yourself challenged by constant temptation.
But you don't have to fall victim to this annual assault on your health. Nor do you have to deprive yourself of the enjoyment of your favorite holiday foods. The key is to have a plan and eat with strategy.
Here are seven tips to help you both enjoy holiday food -- and stay healthy all the while:
1. Never arrive at a holiday get-together hungry. Before a family visit or company office party, eat some fresh fruit, a few raw nuts, a light sandwich or a fruit smoothie -- and drink lots of water. That way, you can enjoy the food without wanting to gorge yourself.
2. Make exercise part of your annual holiday traditions. A recent study found that regular exercise is more effective for weight management than calorie restriction. When visiting others, think about whether the trip could be made on foot, rather than in the car. Take the whole family on walks through the town to see Christmas decorations, or holiday events. Instead of sitting there watching football, why not also play the game? Do your shopping on foot, and use stairs instead of escalators when possible. Start a tradition of outdoor winter activity, such as building snowmen, inner-tubing, cross country skiing -- whatever is possible in your area. No snow? Go on family bike rides, or hiking. Choose a healthy activity everyone enjoys, and do lots of it every year as part of your tradition.
3. When it comes to portions, think small and healthy! Studies show that people are satisfied with less if they start out with less on their plates to begin with. Use the smallest plate possible, then fill it with half of what you think you want.
4. Favor healthier options. Think about the relative healthiness of what's on the table, and serve yourself accordingly, and the healthiest options first. Always start with salads, fruits and vegetables, and then move on to other richer and heartier foods. By the time you get to the truly toxic fare, you won't want to overdo it.
5. Just say no to unhealthy gifts. Candy canes, conventional chocolates -- don't even get me started on fruitcake -- so many traditional holiday gifts are bad for you. What kind of gift is that? The holidays are an opportunity for you to share with loved ones just how delicious healthy foods can be. There are healthier, organic alternatives to just about every holiday gift, from food gift baskets to traditional cakes. The best food gift, however, is one you've made yourself. And if you receive an unhealthy gift, you don't have to eat it. Remember: It's the thought that counts.
6. Don't count on dieting later. Too many of us throw our knowledge about health -- and our resolve to stay healthy -- out the window just because it's the holidays. Part of that tradition is making a New Year's resolution to diet and lose the holiday pounds "next year." Unfortunately, both the gorging and the dieting are unhealthy. It's better not to go off the deep end in the first place. Don't use some future diet as a reason why you can stuff yourself during the holidays. If you know you're not going to diet later, you'll be less likely to lose control now.
7. Drink smart. Take it easy on the booze, the sugary drinks and fatty beverages like eggnog. Just because it's liquid doesn't mean it's not bad for you. Drink plenty of water before and during holiday meals, eat slowly and stop eating before you feel completely full. You’ll feel better, lighter and happier, rather than bloated, dull and sluggish.
Happy and healthy holidays to you all!
According to experts at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, traditions of "eating" and "sitting down" too much during the holidays may pose a health threat for the six million Americans who are unaware they have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. Binge eating and a conspicuous lack of physical activity during the holidays can be deadly for those are afflicted but undiagnosed. Experts recommend those who are older, obese and with a family history of diabetes to see doctor for diabetes test.