The holidays have arrived! A time for celebration with family and friends, a busy social calendar, and many celebrations. Nutrition and dietary habits are often far from our minds as the focus of December is on joy, pleasure and festivities. However as we wake up on New Years day many of us embark on resolutions focused on health and repairing some of the indulgences of the past month of celebration. Instead of a diet-overhaul or missing out on favorite holiday traditions try incorporating these five simple tips into your routine now to make the New Year a little bit brighter and lighter….
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Numerous studies have shown that eating a healthy, balanced breakfast is a simple way to maintain a healthy weight, ward off hunger and keep energy levels up all day long. People who eat breakfast tend to engage in other healthy behaviors that are part of a healthy lifestyle and have fewer incidences of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Breakfasts high in protein in fiber, such as egg whites with whole-wheat toast, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal and low fat yogurt or a smoothie with fruit, give you the best boost in energy to start the day.
Keep Snacks Out of Sight
Your home is the easiest environment for you to control. Only the groceries you choose to purchase end up in your fridge or tucked in your shelves. A classic self-control strategy is precommitment. Simply keep food that tempts you out of your home. You take the decision making process out of the equation. If you only have apples, celery or carrots and hummus available for a snack you will not be tempted by throwing chips or cookies into the running. This is easiest if you live alone and becomes more difficult if you have a partner, children or roommates with different food preferences. But, the strategy still works. Keep healthy snacks stored in easily accessible places and ready to serve, for example, bananas in a bowl on the counter, sliced fruit in the of front of the refrigerator. Keep more tempting treats tucked away in hard to access places, the top shelf that you need a stool to access and stored in a container with a lid. The more accessible snacks will often be the easier choice. During the holiday season, apply this strategy at the office and with gifts. Do not take snacks or treats that may tempt you back to desk and only keep in the home foods that you want to enjoy. Give away those extra goodies.
Buy Smaller Plates and Bowels
Portion control is an essential part of any healthy diet. Purchase or ask for as a gift a new dining ware set with smaller plates and bowls. Take advantage of holiday sales to improve your health. By serving meals on smaller plates you create the illusion of more food. And, while you might want seconds we are not often tempted to go back for thirds, fourths or fifths. Also, serve yourself in the kitchen and force yourself to get up and go back for another serving instead of bringing all the food to the table. The more difficult it is to go back for more, the less likely you are to do so.
Don’t Drink All Your Calories
Do you think you could never go without your morning latte or afternoon Starbucks holiday drink? Love your post-work-out Gatorade? Giving up any of these 150+ calorie routine drinks could save you over 1,000 calories per week! Starbucks holiday favorite Peppermint Mocha latte has a whopping 410 calories and 45% of your daily saturated fat in a grande with 2% milk. Try switching out your latte with fresh brewed coffee or espresso with skim milk. Or order your favorites as a treat but order a tall skinny latte and skip the whipped cream. Nix your soda and sports drink habit altogether and skip the sugar highs and lows. Switch to green tea for the added health benefits, try a homemade green drink to get in some veggies, or keep it simple and stay hydrated the good old-fashioned way with 8 glasses of water a day.
Don’t Finish Your Plate
Ignore what your parents told you about children in other countries. There is no reason to finish everything on your plate. Eat until you are satisfied and save the rest for later. Take it to go or wrap it up and store it. Portions have dramatically increased over the last several decades and often a normal portion should really feed 2 or more people. So share and split meals or save it for the next day. Do not let your plate determine how much you need to eat, listen to your body. The holidays are an excellent time to start leaving a little behind on your plate, as so many meals between Thanksgiving and the New Year are feasts. Your next celebration and good meal is probably just around the corner.