♪ ♫ Jiggle rolls, jiggle rolls, jiggle all the way. Ate too much turkey and pumpkin pie and now I can’t fit in my sleigh, ay! ♪ ♫
There are numerous reasons why we might gain a few pounds over the holidays… we’re more likely to be stressed, our normal workout routines may get bumped in order to accomplish holiday shopping or attend special events, and holiday parties with food excesses suddenly fill our date books. There are ways to survive the 6 week (Thanksgiving-New Year’s) obstacle course without packing on extra pounds or letting your healthy habits fall to the wayside. Here is part one of a two-part article on tips for a healthy holiday. (Stay tuned for part two.)
1) Portion control! Some food only comes around once or twice a year… we don’t have to deprive ourselves of it, we just need to consume it in moderation. That means just one modest helping of the sweet potato casserole, not three.
2) Lay off the booze. Every glass of wine, beer, or spirit has about 100 calories, while mixed drinks have about 200 calories or more. Alcohol also weakens your willpower and can reinforce your cravings for fatty, salty snacks. If you just can’t make it through the holidays without a drink, stick to just one or two per event, or cut your drinks with sparkling water/diet soda.
3) Bake smart! Use egg beaters, Splenda, low fat margarine, applesauce in lieu of oil, low fat sour cream, low/non fat cool whip. If you are attending a party or meal, offer to bring something that YOU know will be healthy because you prepared it that way. Simple substitutions in the recipe are easy to make and most don’t noticeably affect the taste. (Check out this low calorie/low fat pumpkin pie recipe.)
4) Make your plate colorful! Nutrition experts recommend that your plate be vividly colorful, which means choosing a variety of foods to fill your plate. For example, a plate with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing looks pretty monotonous. A healthier option would be to reduce the serving size of the potatoes and stuffing (you don’t have to get rid of them completely), but add in some fruit salad, green beans, sweet potatoes, and even some cranberry sauce. A brownish/white plate suddenly becomes brown/white/green/orange/red.
5) Walk, walk, and then walk some more. When we consume more calories at holiday parties or festive meals, we will need to expend more calories through activity in order to prevent weight gain. (Read this for more information on calories in and calories out.) Look for ways to increase your calorie expenditure each day. Some ideas: park the car farther from the entrance to the store; walk the perimeter of the mall (or Walmart/Target store) before you hit the store/section you are interested in, take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk the dog an extra 15 minutes each day; play with the kids with their new toys; do jumping jacks, crunches, and pushups while you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade; throw the football with your significant other during commercial breaks in the big game.