Ten Steps to Holiday Health
BY CARLYE WAXMAN RD, CDN | ’Tis the season to be jolly — but who feels jolly when they know they’re gaining a ton of weight? You don’t have to hibernate or indulge this holiday season. Just follow my 10 steps to be healthy, and enjoy the holiday fun!
GET TIPSY, NOT TUBBY
Would you rather get a buzz on, or guzzle a few drinks that have tons of flavor and calories? Eggnog is typically 600 calories in an 8oz serving and a white Russian is no better, at 400 calories per cup. Stick to a glass of wine (at 70-100 calories per 6-8oz serving) and maybe enjoy a couple of shots of alcohol (at 70-100 calories per shot) instead of the sugary drinks that just cause a mind-numbing hangover. Save the cocktail calories for something real, like dinner!
BURN THOSE CALORIES
Take up yoga, spin or running a few times per week. You’ll earn the right to have some indulgence and avoid weight gain for January. Pay per class, so you are more likely to go. Deals can be found on sites like Groupon and Living Social.
PLAY THE MEMORY GAME
Reduce your risk of overeating at parties by trying to remember everything you eat. You can give yourself a break on counting raw veggies like celery sticks and carrots — but be able to determine how much dip you had. When you get home from your party I want you to be able to say to yourself: “I had five pretzels, three stuffed mushrooms, four mozzarella sticks, two vodka sodas and a handful of M&M’s.” This method may sound a little crazy, but it will definitely stop you from grabbing at every snack item you see and eat the items that are worth your time and calories.
BE A LITTLE PICKY
Sometimes it’s helpful to say to yourself (but not out loud) “I don’t eat that,” if it’s a food you don’t have on a regular basis. If you usually avoid desserts, when the cookies come out and look delicious, you can repeat in your head “But I don’t eat those things” — and it may stop the devil in your head that says “Ooooh that looks tasty! Have some!” This helps for everything from fried food to chips and soda.
If you do enjoy desserts a few times a week and it’s something you look forward to, make a decision to have one or two small ones (or even a few bites of cake). Studies have shown that the first and last bites are the best ones. So why do you need more than two or three?
EAT BEFORE YOUR PARTY
Why do people skip meals to think they are saving calories before a holiday party? When you skip meals, your brain craves carbs and takes over and making you do unhealthy things. Bread, mini hot dogs, puff pastries, cookies and pizza never looked so good than when you’re hungry. Avoid all of this and eat regularly throughout the day. Skip your mid-day indulgence of chocolate and cut down your portions for breakfast and lunch to maximize your calorie budget for the evening.
SIT FAR AWAY FROM THE FOOD
I know when I stand next to the cheese and crackers, I’ll tend to have more — especially if I’m in the middle of conversation (and I don’t even like cheese). Get yourself a small plate of what you like and walk away. Indulge in conversation, not food.
BRING SOMETHING YOU MADE
Bring something to the party like crudités with hummus so you know there will be something you like that’s healthy.
MAKE REASONABLE GOALS
December is not the time to cut out food from your diet. Making reasonable short-term goals helps to keep you from feeling like a failure when you don’t comply. For example, don’t eat dessert for the week so you can have one Friday and Saturday. Or, if you don’t typically work out daily, set yourself a goal for three times per week!
MAKE HEALTHY PLANS
I have friends I like to go out and have drinks with or dinner, but ’tis the season to make better plans when possible. Invite a friend over and make a healthy dinner, or go out to a movie or a play instead of having drinks. Make a date to go to a gym class or run in the park.
Carlye Waxman is a Registered Dietitian living in NYC. For free recipes, nutrition tips and the skinny on smoothies, visit SweetNutritionNYC.com and sign up for her newsletter.