The Low-Down on Holiday Meals
Michele Lubin, MS, RD, CDN
The holiday season is quickly approaching. It starts with those Halloween “fun size” candy bar temptations, continues with the Thanksgiving Feast, carries on with the office and house parties through December, entices us with the cakes and cookies brought into the office, and ends with a New Year’s Eve celebration. What a season — you spend a seemingly enjoyable time stressed out instead of having some fun. You stress about so many things: What am I going to eat? What will I tolerate well? Will they serve healthy options? Will I gain weight? Will I have time to exercise? How will I ever reach my goals with all of this tempting food surrounding me at all times?
Faced with so many unhealthy choices can seem overwhelming when trying to focus on your healthy lifestyle. While the holidays are meant to be a joyous time, they don’t always turn out that way. At some point, we all seem to end up with some degree of eater’s remorse. But, with the right mindset, a realistic plan, and lots of positive self-talk, this challenging time may prove enjoyable after all. Try these ideas to help you find joy this holiday season:
- Burn More Calories:Increase your exercise and walking levels so you are burning more calories than usual, to make up for eating the treats that you love. Start now – adding an extra 4000 steps per day for the next week will pre-burn those Thanksgiving calories. Make it a holiday tradition to go for a family walk before and after the meal.
- Eat What You Love, But Smaller Portions: Your Holiday dinner can be 3000 calories or 1500 calories: you choose. Start with your lower calorie options like turkey and veggies. Next, take baby-bitesof the higher calorie foods like stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, pecan pie, potatoes and gravy, etc. If it’s too much for a baby’s mouth, then you’re putting too much on the spoon or fork.
- Prepare you mind for the event:Reflect on past Holiday experiences and evaluate what lies ahead this year for you. Have it in your mind what you will say and do when those food-pushers taunt you to eat during the special occasion.
- Modify ingredients in your recipes: If it calls for heavy cream, use milk, omit butter, use low-fat milk in mashed potatoes and a reduced calorie butter spread, cut the sugar in half when making a dessert or substitute with Splenda, use fat free soup in your green bean casserole, omit marshmallows on a sweet potato casserole and use sugar-free syrup to sweeten it, etc.
- Enjoy each bite, savor the flavor, and put down your fork before you are bursting.
- Enjoy the company more than the food!
Have a realistic plan for the season and commit to it! After bariatric surgery, the idea that the holidays are a time for overindulging is gone. The holidays are not a time to take a break from the healthy eating habits you’ve worked so hard to achieve since surgery. Taking a holiday from your healthy eating is not an option! This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy tastes of some of your favorite holiday dishes, just pick and choose wisely and enjoy!