Every year so many of us begin the holiday season with significant accomplishments in weight loss, and unfortunately many of the same people find they have regained their weight and might have added new pounds. It is my goal to motivate my audience to begin the new year with their weight loss accomplishments intact and to encourage new lifestyle goals that will not only keep unwanted pounds off but will be the beginning of improved health and wellness. I need to add that there may be those of you out there that fall into different categories for example, expecting a baby, or suffering with gastrointestinal issues. There are people that have weight to gain, or maintain or need improved laboratory values in blood sugar, cholesterol, hypertension or triglycerides. The focus of this article is strategies to avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
Holidays are special and nurture our souls. There are foods that might bring back wonderful childhood memories. Many of us will find ourselves at holiday cocktail parties and/or buffets for business. These events need special navigating skills. I would never recommend avoiding business events or those wonderful comfort foods from our family get -togethers. What I do recommend is learning how to enjoy holidays and not come away with added pounds that will be so self defeating. So let’s get started:
The Cocktail Party: I suggest a new mindset. There are questions to be answered before you even arrive. What is the time frame? Is this only a cocktail party or is dinner included?
My first suggestion is to eat a small meal two hours before the event. It is so much easier to make healthy choices when you are not starving.
My next suggestion is to focus on the social aspect of this event more than the food and beverage. This is an opportunity to socialize and network.
You should already have established if this is strictly a cocktail party or is there a dinner included? That knowledge will enable you to pace yourself. Walking around and seeing what food is available is your best strategy. A plate halfway with raw veggies and fruit leaves one half of the plate for you to choose a protein, maybe chicken, turkey, roast beef, sushi, deviled eggs, or cheese with a few crackers.
Now for the beverages; what to drink? Nobody really cares what you drink. You have many options. Using flavored non calorie tonic, seltzer and mineral waters dilute alcoholic beverages. Virgin Marys are good substitutions. Red wines, light beers, and wine spritzers also are better choices than cocktails containing fruit juices. Good rules to follow for every alcoholic beverage have a glass of water.
The Buffet: again before you even are there you can determine what food is available by checking out the restaurant menu online or by telephone. If the buffet is a house party you can be a considerate guest by asking the host or hostess what will be served and if you can bring something.
My best suggestion to successfully navigate a buffet is to have two plates, one small and one larger.
The small plate will contain foods that excite you usually cheesy, breaded, sautéed items, pastas, and casseroles. Use your eyes to taste all those foods before you put them on your plate or in your mouth. The larger plate will contain salad greens, raw and cooked vegetables. If you go for seconds it can only be from the larger plate. Again my suggestions for dessert- choose only those choices that excite you and put them on a small plate. We all know the first taste is the best!
Now I would like to focus on my most successful tips for navigating the holidays. Please start today.
Put activity in your life: park your car as far away as you can and walk more. Use the stairs as much as possible. For every thirty minutes of seated time get up stretch and walk for ten minutes. Find an activity that you enjoy. Encourage a partner to be active with you or join a group. Statistics indicate we are becoming a sedentary society with our obesity rates increasing. Activity is not only beneficial for weight loss, and weight maintenance, but also has been successful in reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Keep a journal: this is one of the most successful strategies to lose weight. The awareness of what foods you choose and their portion sizes have been proven to discourage poor unhealthy food choices. There are diaries and apps available for convenience. The additional benefit is reinforcing time management. Include in your journal the time of your meals and snacks, the amount of what you are eating and drinking, as well as how much activity you are adding to your daily routine. I might suggest that bringing this journal to a RD will increase your chances of lifelong successful weight management.
Water: I cannot stress enough how important water has been to my patients in their quest to lose weight. Water is filling; it quenches thirst as well as being beneficial for our skin and organs. I suggest you calculate the amount of water you need by dividing your weight in half and then dividing that number by 8 to determine your daily requirement.
In conclusion I wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a happy peaceful new year.
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