As the holiday season begins, Parkridge Health System dietitian Jamie Welch offers the following tips to help those who are attempting to maintain healthy habits during the holidays.
Be consistent with eating habits – The holidays are an extremely busy time of year for most people, as everyone tries to fit more special events and duties into already hectic schedules. It can be easy to forget to eat or skip a meal in favor of getting more things crossed off the to-do list, but that can set people up for overeating when they finally do get a chance to sit down for a meal. “Try to eat regular meals as much as possible, and keep healthier snacks such as fruit and veggies, meal-replacement bars or trail mix with you when you are on the go,” recommends Ms. Welch. “Having a healthy option close at hand may also make it easier to resist holiday treats in the breakroom at work or in the kitchen at home.”
Be aware of what you eat. Avoid situations that lead to mindless munching - i.e. the bowl of M&Ms or potato chips in front of the television, or grazing the buffet options while catching up with loved ones at a holiday gathering. “Remember that portion control is key, and try to limit high-fat foods that are creamy, fried, or cheese-filled,” said Ms. Welch.
Fool your eyes. Use a dessert plate instead of a dinner plate for your meal - studies have shown that using a smaller plate helps people to avoid overeating.
Slow it down. It takes time for the brain to receive the “I’m full” message from the stomach. “Take time to enjoy your meal, and delay going back for a second helping until you are absolutely certain that you are actually still hungry,” advises Welch. “Listen to your body.”
Get a serving of exercise after a meal. Studies have indicated that engaging in light physical activity (such as going for a leisurely walk with family or friends after dinner) can help lower the rise in blood sugar and improve the function of arteries after a big feast.