COOKING FOR THE HOLIDAYS
As the holidays approach we are all of course thinking about the wonderful time spent around the table eating cookies and holiday treats as well as having some big, terrific dinners with family and friends. So if you are cooking or in charge of some the main meals like I am, what should you be preparing so as not to burst the waistlines?
Here are a few ideas that may help you stay focused on your goals of losing weight or maintaining weight through the holidays.
- Focus on family and friends and social connection rather than the food itself. Remember to take time to enjoy the people, environment and activities as these are more important than the food itself.
- Be active! Family walks, making snowmen, going ice skating, skiing and tobogganing are all fantastic, fun, family holiday events and are even more wonderful than sitting around the couch, turning on a ball game and devouring a giant bowl of chips.
- Think about protein first and think about minimizing the carbohydrates. Yes, I know this sounds a bit Scrooge-like, but it does mean that you can enjoy some wonderful meals and not give away all the fun by remaining mindful of the nutritional content. Holiday birds, fish and poultry are very healthy meals. Steamed vegetables, sweet potatoes, legumes, lots of wonderful things here kept in moderation. And yes, many of the things you will want to be eating like Christmas cookies, mince pie and other holiday treats will be loaded with tons of carbohydrates. So have a taste, but stay away from the mountains of goodies that will undoubtedly proliferate around the Christmas tree and dinner table.
- Have a plan. So if the above paragraph sounds like great advice, but totally impractical, plan ahead. You must be playing defense in order to succeed in avoiding weight gain during the holidays. This means defend your body from all the wonderful temptations, the high calorie, high carbohydrate treats, snacks and desserts that will tempt you over the holidays. Have a plan that you are going to taste one of mom’s cookies and no more. Have a plan that you will have two bites of a pie and no more. If you proactively create a plan and set an expectation in your mind, then you are much more likely to succeed in minimizing your calorie and carb intake than blowing your eating plan. If you make no plan then you will very likely fail. It’s far too tempting to simply have another cookie or enjoy that big, fat slice of pie when the alcohol and social environment is encouraging you to do so. With a plan you stand to have a much better fighting chance.
- Limit alcohol. Once again, easier said than done, but by preparing to limit your alcohol you are much more likely to succeed in limiting your alcohol. Alcohol is a terrific social lubricant and something that many people enjoy with holiday social occasions. It also tends to make us more receptive to temptations, increase our calorie intake and put off our serious fitness plan until the New Year. Add to that the fact that every gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and you have a recipe for some serious weight gain. So one glass of wine and that’s it.