Being health-conscious doesn't necessarily mean that you can't enjoy the holiday season and have a little bit of what you fancy. It simply means that you should continue to be vigilant and be prepared for the festivities.There are many ways in which you can help to strike a balance between maintaining a healthy diet and joining in with the fun and festivities.
1. Exercise: Most people have a little extra time available over the holiday season when they are not at work. Take this opportunity to develop a regular exercise regime. This will help to burn off the excess calories and fat consumed over this period. It will also get you into the habit of exercising, and you can continue the regime after the holiday season is over.
2. Review your cooking methods: These days there is no excuse for not utilizing the many healthy ways in which food can be prepared. Instead of frying, grill your food. If you're roasting, use one of the many available low-calorie spray oils. Try steaming vegetables to retain nutrients and flavor.
3. Invest in lower fat ingredients for cooking: If you're preparing a big dinner, why not use half-fat ingredients whenever possible? It is often difficult to tell the difference where taste and flavor are concerned. You can even get low-calorie beers, wines and soft drinks. By simply swapping regular ingredients, foods and drinks for their half-fat alternatives you can make a big cut-back on fat and calorie consumption.
4. Eat regularly: If you are going to a big party or dinner, don't starve yourself all day in anticipation. You're in danger of arriving there feeling ravenous and eating everything in sight. Instead, have some low-fat, healthy snacks throughout the day. By doing this, you'll be less likely to over-indulge whilst you are out.
5. Prepare for outings: If you have some big nights out and meals planned over the holiday season, try and compensate by having some healthy eating days leading up to the event. Many of us are only too keen to think that we may as well forget about healthy eating over the holidays. However, it should not be a case of forgetting about your diet, but simply managing it a little more carefully over the holidays.
6. Balance your meals out: Don't be tempted to fill up your plate with purely rich, calorie-laden food. Instead, have a little of everything including fruit and vegetables. This way, you'll still get to indulge as well as receive valuable nutrients and vitamins.
7. Be wary of sugary foods: Always remember that rich, sugary foods have a nasty habit of making us crave yet more rich and sugary foods. We've all been there...over-indulging in sweet or rich food...feeling bloated, sick, and making rash promises to never eat again...and, a couple of hours later, finding ourselves back in the kitchen, picking at leftovers. By ensuring that you practise healthy eating over the holidays, and throw in some form of regular exercise, you can expect to have more energy and fewer cravings.
8. Stock up on healthy snacks: When you go shopping, be sure to throw some healthy snacking items in to your trolley. Fill up on raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery, which can make a simple snack in times of temptation.
9. Be aware of food allergies: It is quite possible that you may have an allergy or intolerance to a food, which you may not even be aware of. Because there is a mountain of food waiting around every corner during the holiday season, we sometimes find ourselves gorging on food that we don't even know the ingredients of. Then we wonder why we're feeling so ill the next morning! By having a food allergy test, you can identify any foods that you need to avoid during the holiday season in order to maintain your health and enjoy the festivities without suffering.
10. Moderate alcohol intake: Don't forget that alcohol is fattening too. That innocent-looking glass of sparkly wine or that small bottle of beer may look as though it will do no harm. However, alcohol contains calories and lots of them. Try and control the amount of alcohol you consume over the holiday period and, in the same way as food, try not to over-indulge regularly. There are plenty of lower-calorie beers and wines available that can help, so opt for the healthier version whenever possible.
11. Be assertive: Don't feel as though you have to say yes to everyone that offers you food and drink. If you are not hungry, then simply say so. Do not let yourself be bullied into eating something that you really don't want.
12. Leave what you don't want: Despite what your parents may have drummed into you as a child, don't feel obliged to clear your plate. When you feel full, stop eating. Simple.
William Connor, M.D., who is Professor of Medicine at OHSU School of Medicine, states that: "The overall clinical impression is that people, after the holidays, weigh more than before because of feasting and lack of physical activity." Professor Connor goes on to recommend the following: use low-fat recipes; eat smaller portion sizes; use a small plate to regulate food portions; and exercise regularly and even more so when eating high-fat foods.