Jaime’s 20 Healthy Strategies for Surviving the Holiday Season!
December 10, 2014
By: Jaime Brenkus
Here are the top 20 Healthy Holiday strategies that I've "automated" to get through challenging situations over the years. I completely understand that many of these tips might seem a bit difficult at first, but trust me, as soon as you do them just 1 or 2 times, they'll become "automatic" and you won't even think twice about how to handle these situations.
1. Eat a little before you go. I eat a meal that contains healthy protein and fat to keep me satisfied so I am not running to the buffet table upon entering the party. When asked, "Are you going to eat?" I just say, "Yeah, I'll get to it." Or "I had a really late lunch. I'll eat a bit in a little while." I don't get into a full breakdown about how their breaded, fried and sugar laden food is horribly bad for you. No one really wants to hear it, especially at a party. So I just keep it light and keep it moving and keep the conversation flowing about everything else, EXCEPT the food.
2. Bring your own stuff. We have become so famous for this, people expect me to walk in with a delicious treat. Everyone loves our deviled eggs, guacamole, and vegetable side dishes, it’s often the first thing they ask. "Hey, what healthy concoction did you make this year?" People really do want to eat healthy, it just needs to taste good!
3. Do not let one bad party dictate the rest of your holiday season. Here's another one I see all the time. You mess up one time and you think it's the end of the world. Not true! Just get right back on your plan and start healthy the next day. This is not an all-or-nothing plan. This is a clean, healthy lifestyle. So you didn't "blow" your diet. You just had a little treat...end of story!
4. Plan your shopping route so you don’t pass the Cinnabon stand a dozen times. The obvious reason? Both sights and smells can coax you to eat, and with some vendors strategically waving their aromas your way, saying no can feel impossible.
5. Zip yourself into your favorite pair of slim-fitting pants once a week and note how they fit. Too tight? Adjust your eating and exercise habits. Just right? Keep up the good work.
6. Limit the number of high-calorie foods on your party plate. Research has shown that when faced with a variety of foods with different tastes, textures, smells, shapes, and colors, people eat more―regardless of their true hunger level. Cutting down on your personal smorgasbord can decrease what you end up eating by 20 to 40 percent.
7. Choose foods wisely- filling your plate with low-calorie items, such as leafy green salads, vegetable dishes, and lean proteins, and taking smaller portions of the richer ones. That way, you can eat a larger amount of food for fewer calories and not feel deprived.
8. Pop a sugar-free mint in your mouth. When you’ve had enough (and don’t want to eat more), the feeling of a fresh palate can curb additional munching.
9. Try to keep office goodies out of view, either in an area that isn’t as highly trafficked as the kitchen or the break room, or in dark containers or covered dishes. In one study, people ate 26 percent more Hershey’s Kisses when the candies were in clear dishes versus white ones. And when the chocolates were placed six feet away, the average person ate only four a day, as opposed to nine a day when they were within arm’s reach.
10. Before you allow yourself a splurge, do something healthy, like eating a piece of fruit, walking around the house or office for five minutes, or climbing a few flights of stairs.
11. Use smaller plates and serving utensils. Try a salad or dessert plate for the main course and a teaspoon to serve yourself. What looks like a normal portion on a 12-inch plate or a trough like bowl can, in fact, be sinfully huge. In one study conducted at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, even nutrition experts served themselves 31 percent more ice cream when using oversize bowls compared with smaller bowls. The size of the serving utensil mattered, too: Subjects served themselves57 percent more when they used a three-ounce scoop versus a smaller scoop.
12. Pour drinks into tall, skinny glasses, not the fat, wide kind. Studies at Cornell have shown that people are more likely to pour 30 percent more liquid into shorter, wider glasses.
13. Sit next to a fellow healthy eater (there’s strength in numbers). Or sidle up to that uncle who eats slowly, so his pace can slow yours.
14. Wait for all the food to be on the table before making your selections. People who make their choices all at once eat about 14 percent less than do those who keep refilling when each plate is passed.
15. Keep visual evidence around of what you’ve consumed so you don’t forget. Leave an empty bottle of wine or beer in view and you’ll be less tempted to drink more.
16. Plan in advance to eat a little more and be a little more flexible at this time of year, when you face daily temptations. That way, you can savor the culinary joys of the holidays a little more often and you'll be less likely to binge. For instance, rather than inhaling four sugar cookies on your ‘cheat’ day, allow yourself one as a dessert when the mood strikes. Then make one little switch during the day to account for those calories―maybe skipping that morning latte or cutting out an afternoon snack.
17. Choose your indulgences wisely. Instead of wasting calories on foods that you can have at any time of the year, pick items that are truly special and unique to the season, like your grandmother's candied yams or your daughter's first batch of Christmas cookies.
18. Eat the best-for-you offerings first. For example, hot soup as a first course―especially when it's broth-based, not cream-based―can help you avoid eating too much during the main course.
19. Stand more than an arm's length away from munchies, like a bowl of nuts or chips, while you chat so you're not tempted to raise your hand to your mouth every few seconds.
20. Concentrate on your meal while you're eating it. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Research shows that mealtime multitasking (whether at home or at a party) can make you pop mindless calories into your mouth. Of course, dinner-party conversation is only natural, but try to set your fork down until you're finished chatting so you are more aware of what you're taking-in.