Intentional Living – Holiday Eating


Jacie Slocum with UMC is a Outpatient Dietitian and in this weeks Intentional Living segment she give us tips on Eating during the Holidays.  Jacie was kind enough to give me the following information and list. 

It has always been believed that the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is 5-10 pounds, however, in reality it is closer to 1 pound.  Let’s not get too excited quite yet.  That 1 pound is difficult to lose and in addition to the rest of the year we may gain a total of 2 pounds.  Those 2 pounds over a decade add up to 20 pounds.  An extra 20 pounds in your 40’s and 50’s can lead to complications such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Unfortunately we can’t blame weight gain during the holidays on one specific problem.  Instead that stubborn pound is due to a combination of increased stress, alcohol, fried hor d’oeuvres, large celebratory meals, endless amounts of sweets and a reduction in exercise. 

Here is a list on how we can still enjoy the holidays but not worry about the extra weight gain:

1.  Drink up Wisely:  Alcohol has been proven to affect sleep and increase the appetite, putting you at risk of gaining that extra pound.  The recommended amount of alcohol is one drink per day for women (7/week) and no more than two drinks per day for men (14/week).  During the holidays if you add on an extra 4 drinks per week, those 16 drinks during the holiday season can add up to an additional 1600 calories.  Instead, plan ahead.  If you know you will be attending an event where you are going to have more than one alcoholic beverage then skip the other nights that are less festive.  Start the night with water and be sure to rotate water and alcohol throughout the night.  Use sparkling water and infuse with fruit, filed up in a stemmed glass to feel more festive. 

2.  Out of Sight, Out of Mind:  Research has shown that food in our line of sight is a bigger temptation that the food that is hidden.  If you still have any Halloween candy on your cabinet then put it away.  Put it in the top of the pantry or get it completely out of the house.  Keep precut, grab and go snacks at eye level in the refrigerator and pantry including fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and low fat dairy products like string cheese and yogurt.  At parties, stay out of the kitchen, keep your back to the buffet, and stay busy playing games with family and friends!

3.  Pack on the Protein:  Holiday meals are typically loaded with high carbohydrate containing foods and can lack an adequate source of protein.  Protein is a crucial part of our diet and we need a small portion at every meal and snack.  Lean protein is satisfying on the stomach; it keeps you full longer and is typically lower in calories.  Pass on the fried hor d’oeuvres and instead choose shrimp cocktail, chicken skewers or prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

4.  Fuel up on Fiber:  Fiber can be found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans.  The average American needs 25-35 grams of fiber/day when in reality we consume closer to 12-13 grams/day.  This is something we can all do better at.  At any event aim to cover half of your plate in non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, squash, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and carrots.  Like protein, fiber keeps us full longer and keeps us from over-indulging that can keep us from gaining that extra weight. 

5.  Stay Active:  The holidays tend to lead to a more sedentary lifestyle.  Continue your current workout routine.  If you don’t have a current routine then don’t wait until January, start now!  If possible try to work out in the morning compared to the evening.  Research has shown that when we exercise in the morning we tend to make healthier decisions throughout the day due to feeling better and we also move around more.  Get the family involved and attend community fun walks like the Turkey Trot or the Jingle Bell Run.  During cold weather continue to move and stay active, even if it means having a dance party in your living room.

6.  Practice Mindful Eating:  Being mindful is all about being in tune with your body.  When you sit down to eat put away all of the distractions.  Turn off the TV, put away your phone and that long to-do list, and enjoy those around you or just enjoy a little alone time.  Start to learn the difference of being very hungry, hungry, neutral, full and very full.  Slow down when you are eating and stop at that first sing of fullness, even if you still have food on your plate. 

7.  Freeze the leftovers:  It’s not uncommon for someone to consume close to 3000 calories from that one Thanksgiving or Christmas meal alone.  Purchase plastic containers ahead of time and make to-go boxes for your guest to take.  Freeze as much of the leftovers as you can so that one meal doesn’t turn into 3 days of the same large portions.

8:  Keep your healthiest qualities in check:  The holidays are not the time to break those good habits that you have created for yourself.  If you prepare a well-balanced breakfast in the morning or a nutritious snack in the afternoon that is packed full of fiber and protein then continue to do so.  This will make it easier to avoid the extra sweets that are brought into the office. 

9.  Savor your Dessert:  Dessert seems to be bottomless during the holidays.  If you are attending an event and you know that your grandma is making her world famous chocolate cake then plan ahead.  Save a small slice of cake and have no guilt!  We use all of our senses when we eat so, eat slow and chew well.  Enjoy every bite.  Pass on the caramel popcorn when wrapping presents late at night and instead snack on a small apple with 1 ounce of cheese or a nut butter of your liking. 

10.  Feast on Great Company:  The holidays are such a special time because we get to see family and friends that we may not get to see all year.  Make the guests at your holiday event the center of attention, not the food.  Enjoy every story, laugh and smile and at the end of the night leave full of joy and love not turkey and dressing.

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