The holidays are here! It's time to
enjoy those calorie-laden holiday treats and traditional family recipes, yet
all the extra holiday activities mean less time for exercise and outdoor fun.
Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays,
and often keeps them on afterwards.
Studies also show that nostalgia is
good for our mental health. Nostalgic memories connect us to the past and make
us feel good about ourselves. When we prepare the same recipes and honor the
same family traditions year after year, we feel our lives have value and
meaning. We remember loved ones who are no longer with us, and relive happy
feelings from earlier in our lives. Holiday traditions also create happy
memories for our children.
The secret to a happy,
healthy holiday season is to find a balance between our nostalgic longing for
past pleasures, and healthy eating habits.
Stop trying to lose
weight during the holidays and concentrate on maintaining your current weight
until the season is over and you can get back to your regular routine. Enjoying
a few of your favorite holiday foods will make you feel more positive about
yourself than feeling guilty or struggling to avoid them.
If you overindulge at a
holiday party or meal, don't waste energy on regret. Instead, schedule extra
physical activity and a salad for lunch the next day.
Don't try to do
everything. Select one or two traditional dishes that you enjoy most, and keep
the rest of your meals simple and fresh. Stick to one or two cookie recipes
instead of ten. Ask each family member to pick one favorite holiday activity.
Focus on enjoying each of those activities instead of cramming your schedule
with holiday events. Less stress will make happier memories for everyone.
Look for healthy
substitutions and cut out extra calories wherever you can. Replace rich sauces
with olive oil and seasonings. Bake, roast or broil instead of frying. Use
fat-free milk and low-fat cream cheese. Serve fresh steamed vegetables instead
of creamed casseroles, and whole grain bread rolls instead of white dinner
rolls. Cut out appetizers before the big meal, or offer something light such as
fruit with yoghurt dip.
Make healthy choices at
the buffet table. Take small portions of rich foods and come back later for
more, if you still want it. Fill your plate with salads and vegetables. Take
your time eating, enjoy the conversation and wait 20 minutes before going back
Watch out for the extra
calories in sweet holiday drinks like eggnog, hot chocolate, and mulled cider.
Go for sparkling water or low-calorie punch. Drink plenty of water. Remember
that drinking alcohol increases your appetite and loosens your inhibitions.
While delicious holiday
dishes take center stage on the dinner table, the real purpose of a holiday
get-together is to enjoy spending time with family and friends. Focus on the
people rather than the food. Give some personal attention to guests and make
them feel important. Create nostalgic memories for the younger members of the
family by genuinely enjoying yourself.
And now, it's time to get
out the decorations and your mother's recipe cards!