It’s that time of year again. This year’s big challenge is how to celebrate under our new conditions. Who knows how long this goes on? Meanwhile, we need to and should find a little joy in this time of year. But put crisis together with food and trouble could be ahead.
It’s not just the feasting, although that is bad enough. No, it’s all the little things. Those cookies might go stale if you don’t eat them up. The holiday fudge you wound up eating all yourself instead of giving it away.
And that’s not all. In our busy running around preparing for the holiday, we are more likely to stop for a quick bite along the way at a fast-food restaurant to reward ourselves for getting through it all. There’s the kids’ holiday concert or performance where they have concessions to raise money. In social gatherings, although far fewer than usual, food will be there every time.
Here are some ideas to help your holiday battle with the bulge.
Make It Ahead
If you plan quick, healthy meals at home, you’re less likely to make that stop at the drive-through. A slow cooker is great for this. You can put things together, turn it on, and have a hot healthy meal ready by the time you get home.
Can’t I Eat Healthy While Out?
In a word, no. It is true that more restaurants are offering healthier fare. But chances are that seemingly healthier meal will still have more calories than you would have eaten at home. Their portions will be larger and you’ll be more likely to finish it even if you’re full. Also, you still don’t know exactly what’s in it or if it’s the same as you would make at home.
Don’t Deny Yourself Too Much
There you are, facing the buffet table at the holiday party. There is a wide range of foods, some of them quite tempting. You see a tray of mini-quiches, something you know you really love to eat. But, you think, they’re so loaded with fat. So, you decide to be good to yourself and stick to the dried fruits, nuts, olives and a cracker or two. Sadly, you feel unsatisfied later, after you’ve washed that food down with a bit of alcohol. So, you reach for those mini-quiches anyway. End result: you’ve eaten more than if you had gone for what you really wanted in the beginning. Hey, it’s a holiday. Go for the goodies. Just concentrate on taste rather than volume. And go easy on the alcohol.
Don’t Over-Treat Yourself
Those delicious-smelling coffee drinks seem like just the thing to pick you up during those marathon shopping trips. But remember, you’re going to be consuming more calories at holiday events and some of those drinks pack a walloping 500 calories or more. Instead, go for the skinny latte made with skim milk. Skip the sugar and reach for the no-calorie sweetener. You’ll get a nice jolt without all the extras.
Write Down Your Indiscretions
Grazing is something that happens a lot during the holidays. But you’re not a cow or sheep, are you? Keep a small notebook and pen with you at all times, something that can slip into a pocket easily. Then write down everything you eat. Yes, every cookie, chocolate, mini-sandwich or cocktail shrimp. Just being more aware of what you’re eating will make a big change in your behavior.
Work Out Your Stress
Walking or doing an extra workout at the gym will not only help burn off those extra calories but will help reduce your stress level. You see, it works like this: when your boss yells at you, your body sees it as a threat and initiates the fight-or-flight response, pumping adrenaline into your bloodstream causing your arteries to constrict and your heart to beat faster. But you can’t fight your boss nor can you run away. You swallow your anger and that response will quickly lead to high blood pressure. But when you exercise, it burns up that adrenaline, causing your blood vessels to relax and your heart to operate more efficiently. Even if you’re out of shape, a walk around the block can do wonders.