I love holidays. I love family members huddled warmly around the dinner table when it’s snowing outside. (OK, I wouldn’t mind if we were all in Maui, either.) I love restaurants with festive decorations and tasty treats. I love the cinnamon and coffee and bakery smells when strolling the downtown.
You probably noticed that all these “loves” involve food! Although the holidays are literally Holy Days, they are also Festivals and Celebrations. And there’s a time-honored history of eating together, a tradition that was probably thought up about the same time as the invention of sex.
Most of us would like to be celebratory and healthy at the same time. In our food-rich culture, that generally means some form of holiday diet. Probably not a full diet, but at least a strategy for having a good time while not adding too many pounds between now and the end of the Superbowl.
Scientists are too wise to tamper with a festive season by doing research on a holiday diet. However, advice abounds at this time of year, based on a combination of medical science and psychology.
I have searched the Internet for the best holiday diet advice and chosen the eight articles I liked best, which are listed below in Recommended Articles. Better yet, from these 34 pages I have culled the holiday diet advice that best spoke to me, in hopes that it may inspire you to be both svelte and festive!
Holiday Diet #1: Take Care of Number One
– Exercise in the morning – not only to burn a few more calories, but to speed up your metabolism for the whole day. Even a walk or some stairs is better than sloth.
– Eat your regular meals, don’t skip them, although it’s OK to scale them back a bit. If you miss a meal, your blood sugar will sag and your appetite will go through the roof. Protein (eggs or meat) and fiber (whole grains) satisfy you longer.
– Laying out your party wear? Wear something that’s tighter rather than looser. It builds your self-image, and also reminds your stomach that it’s already beautifully well-fed.
– Need a reminder? Put your watch on the “wrong” wrist as a visible reminder of your goal to eat moderately. You’ll eat less!
Holiday Diet #2: Snack Smart
It you don’t watch yourself, you can consume a whole day’s calories before the meal even begins! Here are some easy strategies for smart snacking:
– Stand or sit more than an arm’s length away from the food.
– Hold a glass in your dominant hand to reduce the temptation to grab a snack; women can do even better by holding a clutch in the other hand.
– Fill your glass wisely: if you pour a moderate portion of a non-sweet drink you’ll consume less than a third of the calories of a pint of ale or a colorful daiquiri. Good choices are a dry wine, champagne, or vodka with a no-calorie mixer.
Holiday Diet #3: Plan Your Plate
– Before you select a single food, survey the scene.
– Put the healthier foods, with lower calorie density, on your plate first, so there’s less room for the others. First, soups and veggies: then meats and whole grains: last of all, starches and gravy. Anything that’s not your favorite, skip it altogether (you only need to eat a tiny portion of Aunt Betsy’s soufflé to be polite).
– Keep the foods separated on your plate, because the empty space reduces your portions.
– Taste everything, finish nothing. After your third forkful, your taste buds are cloyed anyway.
Holiday Diet #4: Slow Your Pace
When you eat, it takes twenty minutes for your blood sugar to rise and put a damper on your appetite. If you can eat more slowly, especially near the beginning of the meal, you’ll find yourself less hungry and more able to pass up that second helping that never tastes as good as the first one, anyway. A good way to really slow down is to chew each mouthful thirty times; savor the food; and enjoy every flavor.
Holiday Diet #5: Don’t Skip Dessert!
This is one of my favorites. Hey, it’s a celebration, don’t be a Puritan. Take that dessert! But try the Three Bite Rule: Take three bites and then put the dessert aside for a few minutes. You may find that you’re satisfied with that amount of sweetness and won’t feel compelled to finish the rest.
Holiday Diet #6: A Holiday is Only 1 Day
Yes, we call it the holiday season. But your holiday diet will be happier if your food celebration is limited to one day per holiday. The very next day, go back to a normal eating routine. Is your fridge is overflowing with delicious leftovers? Certain dishes – turkey, stuffing, gravy – freeze and reheat beautifully, especially when layered and then freezer-bagged.
The best advice: Holiday diet, holiday schmeye-et – enjoy your holiday!
Drawing Credit: “Roast Turkey” from The Print Shop 2 Collection. Not for download or reuse.