Saturday, December 31, 2011

Healthy Holiday Eating

I write this post now guilty of unhealthy holiday eating. "You've gotta let your hair down sometimes," is a common reason given for holiday overeating. Yet between Christmas, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, Valentines Day, birthdays, sports games, graduations, etc, there is always a reason to party. In other words, I feel like we let our hair down a little too much. I don't want to be satisfied with a status-quo that has 2/3 of American adults overweight (Link) and over half of us on chronic prescription medications (Link). Also, unhealthy eating has been linked with increased risk of depression (Link). Below are a few tips to avoid the often present temptations of holiday overeating.

1) Eat beforehand if possible. Being surrounded by unhealthy foods on an empty stomach is usually not a good idea for those of us trying to remain healthy during the holiday season.

2) Eat healthy party foods first. Most holiday parties offer some healthy foods to enjoy. Focus on salads, vegetables, fruits or nuts first. You may find that these healthier options are filling enough. And even if they are not, they will leave less room in your stomach for unhealthy foods, which means fewer belly pounds to work off the following week.

3) Postpone eating until later if necessary. At holiday parties, we are all bound to eat foods we would not normally eat. Yet we all have our limits. For example, if the only food options available are chips, cookies, pop and beer, learning to say "no thanks" might be the best option. It is better to go hungry for an hour or two than eat foods that sap us of our energy, strength or vitality.

4) Forgive yourself. Expecting perfection is neither realistic nor helpful. I believe there is a time for occasionally "coloring outside the lines." The problem is when we form unhealthy food addictions or engage in binge eating. Still, we can not effect the past, only the future. Enjoying the journey is just as important as reaching the destination!

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