Avoid the Holiday Creep, Start Healthier Habits Today

Fruit and cheese platter

Recently I was talking to a potential client who had expressed some interest in scheduling an appointment with me, but decided that she would wait until after the holidays to start changing her eating habits.  You may feel that way too.  This is such a busy time of year that it is hard to add one more thing to our plate – well figuratively speaking at least.

Although most people think it is closer to 5 or 10, the average person only gains about 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.  One to two pounds seems manageable right? The problem, though, is that most people don't ever lose that weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.  Much of our midlife weight gain that just seems to creep on gradually over the years can probably be explained by holiday eating.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid that holiday creep.

Stay Mindful
The first bite or two of anything is always the best.  Savor and enjoy your food with attention.  If you don’t love it, don’t eat it!  Special foods will be even more special when you eat them mindfully and with awareness.

Be a Healthy Host
You can offer those traditional holiday favorites, but also try to offer some nutrient-dense fruit and veggie options too.  Veggie platters and fruit platters are gorgeous colorful additions to any holiday table.  You can also make small changes to recipes to make them just a little healthier for your guests.  Think “reduce, eliminate, & substitute”.  You can often reduce the amount of fat – (butter or oil) and sugar in recipes without missing it.  Sometimes the extras can be eliminated all together.  You can also substitute higher fat ingredients with healthier choices.  An example would be cutting the mayo in a dip recipe by half and replacing it with non-fat Greek yogurt.

Be a Good Guest
These same suggestions apply to being a good guest.  Bring healthier choices along with you to gatherings.  You know there will be plenty of heavier items, so by bringing your own healthier dish you can ensure you will have a go-to dish to munch on for you and the other guests.

Stay (Or Get) Active
Keep moving during the holidays and make it a priority.  Don’t have time for your regular 45 minutes or an hour, break it up throughout the day.  Remember, little things like taking the stairs when you can and parking further out at the mall or grocery store help too.  If you don’t have a regular plan for exercise, don’t wait until January to get started.  Do something to get your body moving now!

Be in Control at Holiday Parties
Be smart about where you stand at a party.  Try to give yourself space between you and the hors d'oeuvres.  Do a quick once over of the choices on the table before you fill your plate and keep the USDA My Plate model in mind – trying to fill half your plate with fruits and/or veggies.

Beware of Liquid Calories
Liquid calories add up quickly.  Try to alternate one glass of water for every drink.  Make a plan before you get to a party of how much you want to drink.  For instance, give yourself a 2 drink maximum.

I urge you not to wait to start moving toward healthier habits.  Food is everywhere during the holiday season, making it tough to stick to your healthful eating and exercise habits.  With a little attention, though, you can make it through the holidays and set yourself up for a healthier 2015.   Don’t wait until January to start on an all-or-nothing diet.  Instead, start today making just 1 or 2 healthier choices each day to set you up to start the New Year off right.  Happy Holidays!