Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

By: ERINN BOON

The holidays are a stressful time for people who are trying to eat healthily because they are filled with parties, bottomless candy dishes and decadent baked goods. Have no fear, there are some simple tips to help you avoid the extra poundage and make sure your jeans still fit come January. You will be well equipped with tips on how to let loose and enjoy the festivities, all while radiating confidence. Let’s use your New Year’s resolution for something other than weight loss this year.
  1. Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Winter weather, although sometimes brutal, can create a beautiful landscape. Instead of sitting inside by the fire; try to venture out. Head to your local pond for some skating and hot chocolate or walk downtown to do some holiday shopping with the family. The snow can be a great excuse to act like a kid again, while also keeping you active and torching some calories.

  1. Protein Pre-Game

Grab a protein-packed snack before heading to a holiday get-together. “Unlike simple carbohydrates, like sugar, it takes the body longer to break down protein through the secretion of digestive enzymes,” says Simmons College Associate Nutrition Professor Sari Edelstein. “Thus, satiety, or the feeling of fullness lasts longer in protein in comparison to sugar.” Light or reduced fat cheese sticks or a handful of almonds are two great options, each containing around 6 grams of protein per serving. The protein will keep you feeling full so you won’t be tempted by all of the holiday treats when you arrive at the party.

  1. Eating Less Isn’t Always Best

A study conducted by the American Dietetic Association states that normal weight individuals tend to eat more frequently than their overweight counterparts. If you know you’re going to be eating a big meal at a function or for some other occasion, don’t skip meals prior to it. It will only slow your metabolism and actually work against you. “I know I’m guilty of this faux pas,” says Megan Collins, a nursing assistant from Boston. “I convince myself it’s better to save all of my calories for when I know I’ll splurge.” This isn’t the case; you should eat every 3 to 4 hours to keep your metabolism going and do your best to use portion control when you get there. United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate is a great place to review what correct portion sizes actually look like.

  1. Stay on Track

Let’s say you headed out for breakfast and gave in to the tempting home fries and bacon, straying from your otherwise healthy diet. Whatever you do, do not use the slip-up as an excuse to splurge for the rest of the day. “Most people I know do this,” says Heather Campos, Simmons College student. “People think if they fall off the bandwagon once, they should wait until the next day to climb back on.” This is a huge no-no in the holiday survival guide. Rein yourself back in and eat healthy the rest of the day. Your body will thank you in the morning when you wake up energized and ready to cross people off that gift list.

      5. Not-so-Happy-Hour

Holiday parties are filled with drinks galore, which can really rack up the calories if you’re not careful. Whether it’s alcohol or steaming hot cocoa, remember that too much of a good thing can turn bad very quickly. It’s not that you shouldn’t drink, but try to make some substitutions when you can. Try to keep it simple and order a vodka tonic or a rum and Diet Coke rather than going for mixed drinks, like a Sex on the Beach or a frozen margarita. If you are a beer drinker, always keep it light.

      6. Keep it in Perspective

People tend to develop tunnel vision when it comes to their diet, especially during a time that’s jam-packed with parties and events to attend. Try to keep things in perspective. A pound is equal to 3500 calories, so as long as you eat well most of the time, one meal isn’t going to push you over the edge into a culinary coma. Whether you go for the cheesecake or skip it shouldn’t be the focus of the night. You should enjoy your time with family and friends. It’s the memories you will remember, not the buffet table.

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