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Healthy Holiday Habits
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The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are the most difficult weeks of the year to maintain your weight and stick with a healthy diet. Many people take a holiday from healthy eating or put off nutrition concerns or efforts until after the holiday season. However, we all know how long those New Year’s resolutions last! Prevention is much easier than trying to diet or exercise away those extra pounds.
Many factors contribute to weight gain during the holiday season: food gifts, traditional foods, Christmas parties, less time for exercise, and the “binge now, lose later” mindset. Let’s look at each of these areas a bit closer and find healthy alternatives.
When you don’t know what to do with food gifts consider taking it to work or a holiday party so others can help you eat it. You could also share food gifts with charitable places such as nursing homes, women’s shelters, or children’s homes. If applicable, freeze homemade goodies for later use.
When attempting to make the traditional holiday meal healthier, consider these tips. Baste the turkey with broth instead of butter. Use nonfat milk in recipes and sauté vegetables in broth or a small amount of olive oil instead of butter.  Use less fat and sugar than recipes call for and substitute applesause or pureed prunes.  Avoid making too many casserole type dishes which tend to be high in calories. Instead, serve more plain salads, fruits and vegetables.
Eat smart at holiday parties. Go prepared by bringing your own low calorie snack foods. Never go to a party hungry. If you will be eating later than usual, eat a bowl of soup, a piece of fruit, or a salad before you go to the party. Don’t waste calories on beverages; choose low-calorie or calorie free drinks. Mingle more than you munch.
Try to find more time to exercise. Exercise first thing in the morning before going to work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park far from store entrances. Take a walk after dinner or ride a stationary bike during your favorite TV show. Spend your lunch hour walking or climbing stairs whenever possible.
When it comes to changing your mindset beware of emotional eating during the holidays. Write down what you eat each day so you are truly aware of how much you are eating. Use a small plate for meals and at parties to help control portions.
We hosted Linda Beech, the FCS agent from Ellis County with the program, “Tiny Taste Bites Equal Big Calories at Holiday Time.” If you would like a copy of her handout you may stop by the Extension office and I will be happy to share it with you.