Enjoying some great dining and special fare during the holiday season doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to ruin your figure.
“You can enjoy your family, your friends and your food this season without having to worry about weight gain by taking just a few precautions,” insisted Diana Romano, a registered dietitian and a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service.
Even though the average American can gain one to two pounds during the holiday season, Romano explained how we can avoid becoming part of this statistic through mindful eating and by following a few simple strategies.
“It helps to have a strategy before you begin celebrating at holiday parties or sitting down to those Christmas dinners,” Romano said. “If you don’t have a plan and just eat indiscriminately, that’s when you can find yourself trying to lose those extra pounds after the New Year.”
Romano suggested that anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without packing on the extra pounds consider following these strategies:
• Keep to your eating schedule. By not skipping meals before a big party or dinner, you won’t be tempted to overeat later. Romano stressed that this goes double for breakfast, since people who start the day with a morning meal tend to eat fewer calories throughout the day.
• Try to consume more food high in fiber. Foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables are filling and satisfy hunger more readily than other dishes with fewer calories.
• Limit the portion sizes. Even if you do choose healthy dishes, still eat in moderation. Smaller portions also allow you to enjoy more variety, including desserts.
• Think about using a smaller plate. Strategies like this actually give you a psychological advantage as it encourages you to choose proper portion sizes. Also, you’ll feel like you loaded your plate when in reality you kept your portions at moderate sizes.
• Start by filling your plate with healthy foods. After you eat a vegetable or fruit salad, then go back for the entrée and cheesy, creamy side dishes. This can help you avoid eating too much of your high-calorie, high-fat choices.
• Eat slowly. Also wait at least 10 minutes before you go back for seconds. This gives your brain time to catch up with your stomach.
• Exercise after eating. It’s a good idea to get some physical activity after a big meal. Try taking a walk with family members or playing a game of catch with the kids. This can help jump-start your metabolism and burn-off some extra calories.