By Pam Chapman, RD CDE
registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and NCCPT certified personal trainer
The holiday season is nearly upon us. Before long, Christmas parties will be planned, presents will be purchased and social calendars will be full. Unfortunately, we tend to move less and eat more during this fun time of year. By following some simple tips, we can prevent unwanted extra calories, stop expanding waist lines, and feel better about ourselves.
1. Start Researching and Planning Healthy Holiday Recipes Now. Find alternatives to high-calorie favorites such as apple pie and green bean casserole. Impress family and friends when you tell them how many calories you saved them.
2. Plan Activities That Do Not Focus on Eating Food. Try planning projects such as volunteering at a Food Bank, delivering food to those less fortunate, going on a family hike, creating holiday decorations or planning a family fun run/walk. You can be with your loved ones without eating extra calories.
3. Make a Plan for Dealing with Problem Situations. For example, how will you deal with a holiday pot luck? One idea is to bring a health holiday snack so you have something to munch on. Another idea is to only fill half your plate when faced with a buffet.
4. Make Exercise Goals. When we move, we feel better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves, we are more likely to make better food choices. Write goals that are measurable. For example, “I will exercise for 30 minutes, five times this week.”
5. Keep Exercise at the Top of Your “To-Do” List. Our
calendars feel full this time of year and it is easy to not make exercise a priority. Write “exercise” on your to-do list.
6. Record Your Meals. This allows you to see how much you have eaten and help teach you better portion sizes. Most of us underestimate how much we actually eat, especially when dining out. Try using My Fitness Pal, or another tracking system that allows you to add recipes, enter favorite foods and track your daily in take and activity.
7. Don’t Skip Meals. Skipping meals usually contributes to more overeating at the next meal. When faced with a big evening holiday party, eat a very sensible lunch. You will be able to make smarter choices with your brain instead of with your stomach.
8. Use the Buddy System. Find a friend or family member with similar goals. Exercising with another person is often more enjoyable. Encourage one another to meet your goals.
9. Be Creative with Exercise. Play a game of tag in the snow. Go on a leaf-collecting hike with your kids. Shovel the neighbor’s driveway. Go sledding with your family. All of these activities get you moving.
10.Don’t Give Up. If you eat more than you should or miss a workout, start again the next day.