How to Develop a Holiday Eating PlanWhether we are attending holiday parties, going to relatives' homes for big family dinners, or entertaining, the holidays are a time when food, sweets, and tasty beverages become a major part of the festivities. Despite our best intentions, this time of year is probably one of the most difficult times to stay healthy.
Specifically, many of us fall victim to cumulative party behavior. One celebration blends into another, and before we know it, we are eating as though every day were a holiday. To combat this effect and ward off the associated weight gain, be proactive in planning for the season.
1. Make a Plan
- Create a calendar Use color coding to help you easily gauge which weeks are going to be heavy-duty event weeks and which aren't. Days without events should be light blue, and those with events should be red.
- Spread out events As much as you can, aim to have no more than one event a week. Sure, there will be times when multiple events are inevitable, but limiting yourself to one a week for most of the season will help you to stay out of "cumulative trouble."
- Eat well when you can Your blue days are when you should stick to your normal, healthy eating habits. Staying on the wagon during these times will help counteract when you do indulge.
2. Tackle Event Days
- Plan to Compensate On event days, cut down on some of your food intake throughout the day to make up for that night.
- Don't Go on Empty Have a well-balanced snack to take the edge off before you leave the house. The snack should contain fiber, lean protein, and a little healthy fat to keep you feeling satisfied. This will prevent you from going into extreme-hunger mode, which often leads to overeating. Try Kashi GoLean bars, Odwalla bars, or an apple and one-fourth cup of almonds.
- Fill Up on the Good Stuff Certain foods are risk-free when it comes to weight gain. If you eat healthier foods first, you will eat less of those that are unhealthy. The following is the optimal order in which to choose foods to eat: fibrous vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery, onions), lean protein (turkey, fish, chicken, ham, lean red meat), starchy vegetables (potatoes, yams, corn, peas), and fruit.
- Indulge a Little Indulging is healthy. Don't forget that! Depriving yourself of the yummy foods of the season is not the answer. Just indulge in moderation. Instead of having a whole piece of cake, split it in half or share it with another guest.
- Drink in Moderation Alcoholic drinks are often a big part of the festivities. Remember that they contain calories and can quickly add up. Try to consume no more than two drinks at events. And if possible, opt for wine or champagne, as they tend to have the lowest caloric impact.
As you experience the holiday season, enjoy! Don't obsess about weight gain-just be smart about your habits!
-- Brett Blumenthal