Let's enjoy the love, joy and peace this season represents.
This holiday comes once a year; we hustle and bustle our way through it and sometimes forget how to find joy in the moment-to-moment. Our healthy eating and physical activity patterns can get thrown off during this season.
I have put together ten proven helpful strategies to keep us all on track to eat healthily and remain active.
1. Remember portion control of carbohydrates when you load your plate for holiday meals. Each serving of carbohydrates should be the size of your closed fist. Some typical holiday dinner carbohydrates are potatoes, dressing (stuffing), bread or dinner rolls, rice, pasta, corn, fruit, milk, milk products and desserts (…more in point # 3.) Chose high-fibre carbohydrates to control blood sugars after meals. 2. Choose dinner plates no larger than 7 inches in diameter. Studies show that we eat less when we limit the size of our plates/bowls. 3. Limit sweets and desserts. We all have that favourite indulgence that connects us to a happy holiday memory or enjoyment. Notice how this point says to "limit," not "eliminate"? Try to enjoy a small portion and don't keep extras in the house to avoid temptations that lead to overindulgence. Follow the "80/20" rule when adding sweets to our weekly meal plan. 4. Eat every 4 -6 hours throughout the day. Eat a healthy breakfast, even if it is a small meal. Don't go long without eating, only to eat a large meal at the end of the day. Studies show this will cause a spike in blood sugar and cause us to overeat. Our bodies need nutrients throughout the day's waking hours, so choose healthy meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 5. Plan ahead. Don't arrive "really hungry" to a holiday party. Plan on a healthy snack before going, like veggie sticks with a healthy protein or a small salad with low-fat cheese. This will help curb cravings and control the temptation to overeat at the party.
6. If you are attending a buffet or grazing table, plan on one trip to the table. Limiting your table visits will lower the chance of overeating and help you focus on being intentional with your relationships with the people at the party.
7. Eat your calories, don't drink them.
Save your calories for the foods you enjoy. Choose water or a zero-calorie beverage of your choice. Egg nog, mixed drinks, punches, and barista beverages will load extra calories into our daily calorie intake, which will raise blood sugar and cause weight gain.
8. Plan on physical activity every day over the holidays. Put into your calendar some of these ideas: Walk after dinner, do several laps at the mall before you shop, dance to your favourite playlist, walk several laps of your favourite box store, and YouTube the Diabetes Coach for some quick physical activity sets. This will help you use up some extra calories and stay fit. It's simple, move more.
9. Limit alcohol this season. Go to Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for guidance.
10. Take a few moments to reflect daily and ponder with gratitude on one or two good moments. An attitude of gratitude will help you sail through this season while maintaining your mental health.