Surviving the Holidays

The holidays usually mean involve "The Three F's": family, fun (or football), and FOOD. The food part, in my humble opinion, is how New Year's Resolutions came into existence. The common thought is to eat all you can during Christmas and then make a vow starting January 1 to workout everyday, eat nothing but carrot sticks and celery, and ask for forgiveness for your glutinous ways.

That is the wrong mentality, and actually starts your year off on the wrong foot. Did you know that from now until the end of the year it is possible to gain 5 pounds, just by eating an additional 220 calories a day more than you should?

We generally use the holidays as an excuse to binge on high calorie, high fat, low nutrient foods, to skip out on exercise, and because the winter months usually mean less sun, and a drop in serotonin (a chemical in the brain that regulates appetite), it is important to be extra careful about what you put on your plate.

I too have been guilty of indulging during the holidays, so to help you and me, I have created a list of helpful tips to help us all make it through the holidays without extreme guilt... and additional pounds.

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1. Load up on veggies. It is common that the item on your plate that takes up the most room is usually the meats, the breads, and the sweets. Fill up on the vegetables first, and then top of your hunger with small slices of turkey or ham, and small portions of stuffing and sweets.

2. Don an apron. Cook as much as possible. It is obviously more convenient to purchase ready-made main dishes or sides at a speciality meat store or the local grocer, but by cooking as many meal items as possible, you control the ingredient; therefore, controlling the amount of fat, sugar, and grease you consume.

3. Choose wisely. Select white meat over dark meat. Pick a slice of pumpkin pie over a piece of cheesecake.

4. Drink Water. Cold weather normally doesn't make us race to the kitchen for a glass of H20, but it helps fight off dehydration from traveling or the (hopefully) small amounts of alcohol we have consumed. Remember, sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Additionally, if you choose to drink alcohol, consume wisely and select a light beer, a wine, or a champagne spritzer.

5. Stay Active. Rather than plopping down in front of the TV right after dinner, go for a walk with a relative you have not seen in a while and catch up, or even a spouse. Plan your activity accordingly so you do not miss out on your favorite sports team :)

6. Portion Control. Do not deprive yourself or try to start a diet this week. Enjoy your favorites, just in small quantities and spread out at various meals. Do not feel like you have to dump every item on your first plate. Trust me, there will be leftovers and many opportunities to try every dish.

Some of the greatest words I have heard spoken are: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Have a wonderful holiday season with your family, plan your meals accordingly and you will feel fantastic (rather than guilty) going into the New Year.

In Health,
~ Q. Olivia

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