BY DINAH MYERS
Would someone please tell me where 2017 went? It seems like only a few weeks ago it was spring, and now we are into fall! What a short summer, and year, for that matter! With October comes the planning of our fall and winter holidays and activities. If your holidays always involve food, then you are like most of us. Cool evenings bring on memories of hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows by the fire. Family and friends gather for special meals whether home-cooked or enjoyed at favorite restaurants.
As the holidays arrive, remember my motto – “preparation prevents desperation.” Stay stocked up on healthy choices, especially before and during the holidays. Look for opportunities to make healthy choices. At parties, start with the veggie and fruit trays. Limit the added dressing so that you are not picking up extra calories. Dip the vegetables or fruit in the dressing rather than pouring it over these items. Even better, dip your fork in the dressing, then pick up the food bites. You get the taste of the dressing but only add a tiny amount! Another helpful trick is to go ahead and eat a balanced meal prior to going to a party or reception but leave off a vegetable serving and fruit serving, so you can still eat at the event but not overeat. Also, drink water frequently, so you won’t be thirsty or tempted to consume punch or other sugary beverages. Focus on enjoying the conversation, catching up with old acquaintances and meeting new ones. When you make a less than healthy choice, the most important thing to do is to avoid allowing one instance of eating unhealthy to become a week or month of unhealthy choices! I often hear folks say, “There’s no point in dieting now; I will just blow my diet with the next event.” It’s far better to stay focused and get right back to eating healthy rather than giving up and just eating poorly for weeks!
Holidays can bring up a lot of emotions/memories that are below the surface. If you are a stress/emotional eater, these times can be huge diet pitfalls. Again, stay stocked up on healthy choices so that when you do feel the need to eat, you’ll be eating foods that are nutritious! Holiday meals may involve lots of sauces and gravies, calorie-laden casseroles and desserts. Plan your meals in advance with fresh vegetables, and make substitutions in recipes when possible to lower the amount of fat and sugar. For me, sugar is a “drug” I just can’t get enough of once I start eating sweets. At large gatherings, I prefer to just eat a plate of desserts! To prevent overindulging, I eat plenty of lean protein and vegetables, minus sauces and gravies. I also avoid casseroles as these usually have a fairly high-fat content. I will then limit myself to only one serving of dessert (it might consist of bite-sized portions of several treats, though). I also try to get on the treadmill every day during the holidays so that I burn those extra calories and rev up my metabolism!
And, then there are the endless photo opportunities…do you feel your anxiety level rising when someone whips out his or her camera or smartphone for pictures of you or the group? When you see pictures of yourself at holidays, do you cringe and say, “Oh, I never look good in pictures?” Cameras are accused of “adding” at least 10 pounds to our images. If we are already 20 pounds over our desired weight, then our pictures will look like we are 30 pounds overweight which equates to three dress sizes! No wonder so many parents have lots of pictures of their children at holidays but are rarely in these pictures themselves. Look back at your photo albums and see if that is true for you. In the years to come, your children will ask you why you are not in the pictures. Don’t let this year be another one with no holiday pictures of you! Start getting ready now, and you can easily be down two to three dress sizes by Christmas. Give yourself a gift of “loving yourself” and being healthy!