Holiday meals could more appropriately be called binge-eating on steroids. I admit that I have coordinated my Thanksgiving day clothes with elastic waistband pants. It’s better than putting someone’s eye out with a ricocheting button.
While losing weight is probably one of most people’s top three New Year’s resolutions every single year, you can get a jump start on your diet during the holidays. Sure, diets are a drag. Cardboard food. Frozen, sodium-filled dinners. Counting calories/fat/carbs or whatever. Reading labels. Ugh. The amount of brain power it takes to plan a diet is discouraging before you even get a chance to start. And doing it during the holidays is totally a humbug idea. But there are lots of ways to improve your diet, and most are at least somewhat effective. One thing many of them have in common is portion control. Eat less. I’m not sure where the trend toward ultra-big meals started in America, but it’s probably one of the top five culprits in unhealthy diet habits. Do you really need to supersize a meal that is already over 1000 calories?
Portion control can be particularly effective during the holidays. You don’t have to feel cheated. Eat a little, but not the whole shebang. A few ways to implement portion control:
- The general recommendation for a serving is the size of the palm of your hand. That’s obviously going to be different for everyone.
- Consider the value of the foods being served. A serving of steamed carrots, for instance, is not equal to a serving of scalloped potatoes. A serving of fresh fruit isn’t the same value as a serving of cheesecake, either. It’s a hard luck life when it comes to choosing what you should eat and what you want to eat.
- The fresher, the better. Choose steamed veggies over casseroles. Fruit salad over cobbler.
- Use smaller plates. If you have less real estate to fill, you eat less. Resist the temptation to have seconds, unless it’s a salad.
- Skipping meals is not healthy, though I’ve been known to do it on busy days. Meal replacement shakes are a good alternative, but be careful about canned ones which may have a lot of sugar and additives. I like smoothies with fresh fruit, yogurt, and a handful of greens. I probably don’t add enough greens to qualify for green smoothie status, but every little bit is better than nothing.
- Our bodies crave water, whether we know it or not. I sometimes do not get thirsty. Hungry, yes. Thirsty, no. I really have to intentionally drink water throughout the day. I try to keep a water bottle filled to drink with each meal. Drinking water will reduce hunger pains, thus keeping snacking under control and eliminating the need for larger meals. I stress water, filtered water preferably, because coffee and tea have caffeine, fruit juices have too much sugar, and sodas and sports drinks are really at the bottom of the nutritional food chain.
By eating real food (stuff that doesn’t come in a box) and reducing the size of your meals, you can save the hassle of the higher math needed to count all those calories, fat, and carbs.
Tell me one food that calls your name during the holidays and how you can keep from eating the entire bowl of it.