Lilah Al-Masri, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Simon Bartlett, PhD, CSCS, ATC
With the holiday season upon us, our special guest bloggers, Lilah Al-Masri, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and Simon Bartlett, PhD, CSCS, ATC, authors of 100 Questions and Answers about Sports Nutrition & Exercise, offer expert tips on staying healthy.
It’s that time of year when celebrations and the emotions that surround them often tempt us to sideline our healthy eating. Food brings family and friends together for traditional holiday recipes, but also presents us with temptations. Good food and good company make the holidays a special time of year, but we must remain mindful of our choices.
It can be a slippery slope from Halloween to the New Year and if you are not careful, you may find yourself five to ten to fifteen pounds heavier in 2015. With a little planning, you can meet your goals and keep your weight stable throughout the holiday season. Incorporating some of the tips below can lead to a healthier you in 2015!
- Be realistic. Do not plan to start a diet, swear off all of your favorites, or avoid the festivities. Unrealistic goals usually fail.
- Create a plan. Set aside 10 minutes to jot down your goals and plans to achieve the goals. By taking the time to put your ideas on paper (or in your smart phone) you will be more motivated to remain on track.
- Share your plan with your friends and family. Relaying your plan prior to the holiday event(s) helps decrease stress, keeps you focused, and can be a source of support.
- Enlist the help of a buddy or keep a journal (paper, smart phone or App). If you have to be accountable, you are less inclined to stray from your plan.
- Do not skip meals or snacks. You will be more likely to overeat later in the day if you miss a meal or snack. Keep healthy snacks readily available.
- Do not go to a party hungry. You will be more likely to overeat and overindulge if you are hungry when you arrive at the party.
- Do not graze. Grazing always equals overeating. Take the time to eat a healthy, satisfying meal.
- Move away from the temptations. At parties or at the holiday table, position yourself away from the hors d’oeuvres, desserts and/or any other foods that may tempt you.
- Survey your options. Before you fix yourself a plate, take a quick look at what is being offered. Taking a minute to decide what you want before you pick up your plate will help decrease overeating.
- Be mindful of portions. Take a smaller amount of the foods that are less healthy. Balancing your plate by filling it with more of the healthier, colorful foods will curb your desire for second servings.
- Use a small(er) plate. The size of the plate matters; smaller plates help control portions. Using a smaller plate is extremely helpful when meals are served buffet-style.
- Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach and brain to signal fullness. Slow down your meals by consuming smaller bites, chewing thoroughly, putting down your fork in between bites and engaging in conversation.
- Think about your drink. The calories in alcohol, sodas, juices and specialty beverages (coffees, lattes, cocoas) can add up quickly.
- Go for a walk. Exercise is important to keep in shape and reduce stress. Plan solo activities and ones the family can enjoy.
- Learn how to say “no thank you” politely. Being able to kindly pass on certain foods or seconds will reduce overeating and feeling guilty.
Do not approach the holidays with an all or nothing attitude. Instead, take the time to think about what you can do to improve your nutrition and exercise plan from last year. Even little changes can make a big difference. Remember– you do not need to be perfect to be successful! Enjoy!
More information can be found in 100 Questions and Answers About Sports Nutrition and Exercise by Lilah Al-Masri, MS, RD, CSSD, LD and Simon Bartlett, PhD, CSCS, ATC.
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