Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A few tips for healthier holiday eating

It's just way too easy to mindlessly overindulge during the holidays and then have extra work to do at the beginning of the new year to lose those extra pounds. Fortunately with a little focus and a plan we can reduce the amount of extra calories we're taking in during the festivities and still enjoy ourselves. Here are a few of my favorite strategies for healthier holiday eating.

Always carry a healthy snack. A small bag of nuts (100 to 150 calorie portion) can be a good choice. Use them when needed to take the edge off hunger. Otherwise if you let yourself get to the point of ravenous hunger before a party, when you are presented with a table full of holiday treats, the natural course of action is to go wild devouring goodies. I've done that more than once and it's not pretty.

Seek out raw fruits and veggies first. Fiber and well-hydrated food (versus food that is sugary, fatty, dry and/or crisp) is our friend. Our favorite fruits and veggies can keep us full and satisfied. So if we eat plenty of salad or the carrot sticks and apple slices first, we'll likely eat less of the calorie-laden casserole, chips and cookies.

Opt for whole grains versus stripped down wheat, rice, etc. when available. Again, the more fiber we eat, the more satisfied we will feel. Plus whole grains are soooo much more nutritious.

Avoid going back for seconds or grazing. When you can see how much you truly are eating, you eat less. We tend to underestimate how much we have eaten when we go back to the table over and over again. It's especially insidious when we're having a wonderful time talking with our family and friends over the holidays. Studies have shown that people actually tend to eat more when they are happy!

Stay hydrated and avoid excess alcohol consumption. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your appetite down. Sometimes hunger is actually pangs caused by dehydration. And please watch out for how alcohol affects your food consumption. Because alcohol loosens our inhibitions in general, it tends to promote heavier eating at meals and more frequent snacking between them.