You should never feel like food is the enemy, especially during the holidays. However, many of us feel surrounded by food during this time of year, which can throw off our normal habits. I’ve been working with a nutritionist/registered dietitian the past few months to help me develop a better relationship with food and a healthier way of eating. Before Thanksgiving, she gave me some excellent advice. Number one is to practice, as always, intuitive eating—eating only when hungry and only until you’re just satisfied. If you continue to practice this through the holidays, you won’t overdo it. Also, if you really want to enjoy something higher in calories, don’t restrict yourself. But if you’re faced with a buffet of foods, rate the foods on a scale from one to ten with the ones being foods you really don’t like and tens being foods that perhaps you absolutely love and rarely eat. For example, a slice of your grandma’s homemade cherry pie that she only makes for special occasions. If you want to splurge, only do so on nines and tens. Food isn’t the enemy and you don’t want to feel restricted. Enjoy a sensible portion and stop when your body tells you it’s full.
The following tips are from eatright.org, the website for the American Dietetic Association. They’re great reminders and helpful hints.
Courtesy of eatright.org
The holidays are here, and even though they come with enough cookies, candy and comfort foods to last a lifetime, don't run screaming from the buffet table just yet. Food may be a centerpiece of holiday festivities, but the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to pack on the party pounds. Try these tips for making your holidays healthful:
Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower, so eat a small, low-fat snack such as fruit or low-fat cheese before you head out the door. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive.
Make just one trip to the party buffet. Choose only the foods you really want to eat and keep portions small. Often just a taste satisfies a food craving or curiosity. Also, move your socializing away from the buffet table to eliminate unconscious nibbling.
Meet and greet. Conversation is calorie-free. Get a beverage (try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than alcohol) and settle into the festivities by catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Choose lower-calorie party foods. Go easy on fried appetizers and cheese cubes. Instead, have some raw vegetables with a small amount of dip—just enough to coat the end of the vegetable— or try boiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail sauce or lemon. To help ensure there will be healthful treats, bring a dish to the party filled with raw vegetables with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip, or bring a platter of fresh fruit.
If you are at a sit-down dinner party, cut your first helping in half. That way, you can enjoy seconds (and your host or hostess will feel good about that) and the total amount of food you eat will be about the same as a normal-size portion.
Enjoy physical activity after a holiday feast. Find activities the whole family can do such as walking, biking, roller-blading or hockey, and develop family fun-time habits that can continue after the holiday season.
Be realistic. Don't try to lose weight during the holidays—this may be a self-defeating goal. Instead, strive to maintain your weight by balancing party eating with other meals. Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy celebration foods later without overdoing your total calorie intake.
Have fun. Enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, too.
With a little practice and mindful eating, you and I can make it through the holidays without feeling any pressure, stress or guilt surrounding food. I plan to tell myself that the things I want to remember most about this Christmas and holiday season are people and memories. Enjoy, relax and Merry Christmas!