If your schedule looks anything like mine, you are in for a dieter’s nightmare in the next coming weeks. Even those that do not necessarily try to watch their weight, but strive to just eat healthy, need to keep their eyes peeled for dietary traps this time of year. But if you enter the season with an awareness of what lurks ahead, you can arm yourself with strategy to withstand the temptation to eat things you would otherwise pass up.
Stock your pantry
The first strategy to eating right during the holidays is to keep healthy food in your house. Prepare nutritious meals at home and eat before going to a function where you know snacks will be served. This is especially true for your children who struggle to make wise food choices. Keeping a pot of vegetable soup simmering (or at least in the fridge, handy for dipping) will provide a quick and easy meal when someone has to dash out the door.
Take food along
Because of the time spent shopping, grabbing a burger on the go is a real pitfall this time of year. If you are heading to the mall for your holiday shopping, pack a little bag of healthy snacks to tide you over until you can make it back home. Apples, oranges, cheese sticks, and trail mix all travel well and will not spoil if left in the car. If you just cannot help eating out, choose a healthy, but inexpensive alternative to fast food like soup and salad or pizza.
Drink plenty of water
We often confuse thirst for hunger. And when the temperatures hover around freezing, we don’t desire cold drinks like in the hot summertime. Keep a water bottle with you all year round and drink freely to eschew the munchies. A well-hydrated person will not be tempted by all the break room goodies at the office. Also, keep in mind that your beverage choices are just as important as your food choices. A regular 12 ounce beer contains around 145 calories, a soda 145-165. And that little glass of wine? From 110-130 calories. Since I cannot recommend consuming artificial sweeteners, I’d just stick with the water.
Watch your choices
Sometimes we just have to be our own mommies. You know what I mean—telling ourselves to eat our veggies first, or no dessert until we clean our plate. If you find yourself at the office party or the fellowship time after the church Christmas program, go for the veggie platter first. After you’ve had your fill of carrot and celery sticks (without big globs of dip balancing off the ends), then go for the non-sugary snacks like pretzels or crackers. Next choose from the protein snacks—meat and cheese or nuts. I put those third because they tend to be the high-fat offerings on the table and we don’t want to fill up on fat when we are trying to avoid gaining that extra 10 pounds. Finally, you may partake of the sweet, sugary choices; but hopefully you will be too full to consider them.
Use your freezer
When friends and family bless you with tins of cookies or homemade banana bread for the season, don’t leave them on the counter to tempt you. Pop them in the freezer. Then in March when you want a little sweet treat, take a few out to thaw. Also, you might consider cutting back on your own holiday baking. Just because Mom and Grandma baked dozens of sugar cookies, made pans of fudge, and dipped bags of pretzels in chocolate each Christmas season, doesn’t mean you need to carry on the tradition. Rather than give family and friends tins of cookies, opt for fruit baskets or cheese balls and crackers.
If you combine these tips for eating right during the holidays with last week’s tips for getting exercise in winter, there is no reason to have to work off extra pounds in the New Year. Have any other secrets for a healthy holiday season? We’d love to hear them in the comments.