October 30, 2008

Staying Healthy Over The Holiday Season

Staying fit over the holiday season is a challenge for most of us. Our routine is generally disturbed and keeping up with our healthy goals very much challenged.

From Thanksgiving to January, many of us run marathons from one party to another. Unfortunately, that type of exercise is not the kind that helps us stay fit. Family meals, office parties, buffets and, cocktails parties are generally associated with an abundance of rich fatty sugary foods and not to forget, alcohol. We also run from one shopping center to another and too often grab a quick bite in the car after driving through the fast food joint. Needless to say, it is not a good healthy habit. So what are the consequences to all of this? Losing track of our dietary needs and exercise schedule can only lead most of us with a bigger waistline by January. How can we avoid such problem?

We all know that the holiday season is not a good time to start a diet or change our lifestyle. So, let’s forget about that for now and get back to those thoughts in January. On the other hand, we cannot just give ourselves “carte blanche” to indulge like we will never have another time like that ever again. We must continue to control, as much as possible, our lifestyle and our healthy eating habits through the holiday season. We also need to acknowledge that allowing ourselves to enjoy the season, our family, our friends, and many parties is indispensable to our mental health. Therefore we need to be a little more lenient with ourselves around that time of year. All we can do is our best and knowing that we did that will make the holiday season even more pleasure full. Now that we establish that very important point, let us consider some healthy suggestions to help us getting through this holiday season without too much damage.

First, we must make an agreement with ourselves:
  • To eat less than we want too without depriving ourselves from holiday pleasures.
  • To keep up with an exercise routine as much as possible
  • To carefully choose our foods and drinks through the holiday season
Second, we must keep in mind some simple rules:
  • While shopping just stop and sit down for twenty minutes and enjoy a small salad or half a sandwich with a soup and a small bottle of water. During that time you can collect yourself and strategies your next shopping plan of attack.
  • Continue and if possible, even increase exercise time to make up for those extra calories you will eat. Great time to have outdoors activities with families and friends. If you have the chance to live in cold area that has snow; build a snowman, ski, ice skate, have snowballs fights, etc. If you live in a warm climate, go on a hike, ride a bike, organize a baseball or soccer game, play tennis, go to the beach for a stroll or swim.
  • Weigh yourself every morning, particularly to see if you are gaining weight. If you do, take immediate measures to lose it. Exercise and/or eat less, giving preferences to salads and light meals for the next couple of days. Some people may find helpful to keep a journal, if that works for you, do so.
  • Before attending any social event, consider to eat a small snack such as a fruit bowl, a small salad made with vegetables, or a healthy smoothie. This will cut down your appetite considerably and make up for the lack of vegetables and fruits (fibers) usually lacking around holiday goodies.
  • Keep drinking lots of water throughout the day. It will help eliminate and to avoid eating and drinking too much.
  • Go easy on alcohol and never drink on an empty stomach. Choose wine or beer over hard liquors. Try to stay away from mixed drinks; they are often loaded of calories due to high sugars in the mixes used to make them. Drink a glass of water before you start drinking alcohol. Sip on one glass of wine for a long time, don’t just gobble up. Limit yourself to one or two drinks per event. Once you reach the limit, drink water or unsweetened sparkling water.
  • Choose the healthiest possible types of food such as salads (with little dressing), grilled fish and white meat, steamed vegetables, fruits or vegetables with dip, whole wheat bread instead of crackers with a small amount of cheese or spreads, nuts (walnut, pistachio, and cashew), seafood (a couple of shrimp with cocktail sauce), and low sugar/fat style foods. If you must have that real rich creamy dish that you love so much, just take half of what you would normally do and add steamed vegetables and greens.
  • Pleasure yourself by choosing something that you will really enjoy and that stimulate your taste buds while offering exquisite flavors. If you know it is not your best healthy choice, just take a smaller amount and savor every bite of it. If you can’t resist those delicious little cakes that are calling for you, have one but not three or four. Ok, I admit, this is where my weakness is. So I am going to give you my secret to overcome such problem. Generally, I limit myself to three or four things. Yes I know, I just told you not to do that, but you will understand soon how this can work. I take one or two small bit of each savoring slowly before swallowing in order to get the full flavor and texture. Very satisfying experience and not so calorific (equivalent to one dessert), but you must have a strong will to stay under control. If you know you can’t control yourself, then just choose your very favorite dessert or one you never tried to experience something new.
  • Do not stand next to the buffet table; this is too much temptation. Try to make no more than two trips to the buffet, one for appetizer/entrĂ©e and one for dessert. Even better, avoid dessert once in awhile, particularly if you see nothing really tempting or go for a fruit.
  • Use a smaller plate (if available) rather than a large plate. Do not pile the food on the plate. Take half the amount you thing you want. Be reasonable and think if you really need to eat what you are about to take. I cannot emphasize enough portion control!
Focus on the people rather than the food. It is a great time to mingle, catch on with old friends, relatives, co-workers or even make new friends.

In conclusion, I will say this. Enjoying life’s pleasures with control is one of the key to well-being and happiness. So remember: moderation, moderation, moderation. If you do, your first year resolution won’t be losing the extra weight you gained over the holiday season. I will finish with a quotation from one of my favorite writer Mark Twain:

A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.


©Copyright Chef Marie, LLC®


Niki said...

Thanks for the great tips on staying healthy over the holiday season! =)

Marie-Annick said...

Glad you like it. If you want to add anything that you know works for you, do feel free to share it with us. It is for everyone's benefit!

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