The holidays bring both excitement and stress in our lives. Managing health and weight goals can be especially challenging this time of year. Here are some tips to help reduce anxiety and keep you on track.
Don’t show up too hungry.
It can be tempting to skip meals earlier in the day if you have an event planned, but this can lead to making poor choices and overeating later in the day. Stay on track with balanced meals throughout the day.
Bring a healthy dish.
Offer to bring a healthy dish to gatherings. This will ensure you have something healthy to eat and will give other guests a healthy option, too.
Navigate the buffet.
Look at all the items on the buffet before you put anything on your plate. Choose which items you really want to include.
Include a source of protein with every meal and snack. Protein helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keeps you feeling full. Turkey, ham, beans, cheese and nuts are all good sources of protein.
Slow down and enjoy.
Use a small plate to set yourself up for success. Set your utensil down between bites and chew well. Slow down and savor the foods you eat.
Spend time away from the kitchen, bar or appetizer table to reduce the temptation to keep going back.
Focus on hydration.
Even mild dehydration can trigger a false sense of hunger. Liquid calories can add up quickly, so stay away from eggnog and mixed drinks. Instead, try a spiced herbal tea or a flavored coffee sweetened with a calorie-free sweetener.
Revise or replace old favorite recipes.
Start a new tradition using healthy ingredients, like lean proteins and fresh vegetables. Try mashed cauliflower or turkey and cheese stuffed bell peppers. Try replacing oil with applesauce in baked goods.
In addition to supporting weight loss and weight maintenance goals, exercise helps to reduce stress. Try going for a walk after a meal, or choosing an activity to do with friends and family that doesn’t revolve around food. Maintain the exercise habits you already have in place.
Pack a healthy snack.
It’s a lot harder to turn down a cookie when your stomach is growling. Don’t leave the house without something to curb hunger. Try almonds, meat or cheese sticks or protein bars. These foods keep blood sugar levels stable and make it easier to make choices that keep you on track.
Focus on the company.
The holidays are an opportunity to spend time with people you may not see very often. Enjoy the company and focus on the conversation.
Making it through the holidays without ever indulging in a favorite food is not necessary to stay on track with your goals! Choose the days and foods you really look forward to every year. It will be easier to turn down the cookies that show up in the break room if you know that sweets are not off limits and know what you have to look forward to. One meal will not derail your goals. It’s the habits you maintain on a regular basis that make a difference. Enjoy, and then get right back on track.
Information provided by Jayden Chapman, MS, RD, dietitian at the UT Health Tyler Bariatric Center.