Monday, November 26, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As we approach Decemeber, there's even more delicious food to take advantage of.

Plus, the holiday season gives us the perfect excuse to turn up our favorite holiday music, put on that tacky sweater from our cousin with absolutely zero shame, and get cooking in the kitchen!

Below is our list of Healthy Holiday Tips that will encourage you to maintain a healthy perspective the whole season through.

 Practice Portion Control.
You don’t need to get our permission to enjoy some of Grandma’s stuffing, Auntie’s sweet potato casserole, or your brother’s turkey gravy.  This is the time of year that food brings people together and rekindles happy memories. We encourage you to enjoy a serving of these holiday favorites, completely guilt free. Eat them slowly, savor the flavors, wait 20 minutes after you finish eating before considering a second helping, and remind yourself you can always have more stuffing, casserole, or turkey…tomorrow.

In case you need a little help determining an appropriate portion, here’s a cheatsheet.

You Are What You Drink.
Especially for young ones—limit soda, juice, and other sweetened beverages. They tend to be high in sugar, something most kids can do without. As for parents, holiday cocktails and gourmet coffee drinks can really add up in the calorie department, without contributing much to your nutrition profile, but making a pretty significant difference in your body profile.  Try to choose the one drink or cocktail that really makes the day special and memorable, and then stick with sparkling water with lemon for the rest of the evening.

Be Real.
According to a 2010 article from the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, consuming artificial sweeteners may actually be counterproductive to weight loss. The study suggests eating artificial sweeteners makes us want to eat even more food. Why? Because the brain is unable to receive the message that the body has been given food. We remain unsatisfied until we receive what the brain thinks is adequate nourishment. If you’re craving something sweet after your meal, indulge yourself—have a small portion of the real thing. And skip the artificial sweeteners in your recipes, too. You’ll end up being more satisfied and less likely to overeat something later.  Besides that, they just don’t taste good.

Let Santa’s Little Helpers Help You.
While the meaning of the season is all too often lost among the stress and the chaos, remind yourself that the holidays are about spending time with family and friends. It's also a perfect opportunity to develop healthy eating habits with the kids in your family—and getting them in the kitchen is one of the very best ways to teach them about food. Children love to wash the potatoes, mash the yams, stir the batter, and knead the dough. And don’t forget to take pictures! These are the moments everyone will treasure long after the meal is done.

Get Moving.
Physical activity is often put on the back burner this time of year—but  for the wellbeing of your family and yourself, maybe it's time to start a new holiday tradition. How about a brisk walk around the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights, skating a few laps around the ice rink, hitting the slopes, going sledding, playing a game of tag, going for a bike ride or a swim in the pool. All of these activities are fun to do with your friends and family, will help regulate your appetite, and also relieve some of that holiday stress. It doesn’t have to be a full day commitment either. Even a few minutes here and there makes a difference. Dance party in the kitchen anyone? Count us in!

For more info about the benefits of physical activity, read our tips here.

Be Nice. Remove Yourself from the Naughty List.
“It’s dark so early.” “It’s cold outside.” “But I look forward to all the holiday treats!”

This is the time of year when it's easy to make excuses for bad choices.  Regardless of the time of year, your health should be a top priority. You deserve to be healthy, you deserve to be happy, and you deserve to feel good.  

Eat. Often.
We love to eat. Often. And one of the very best ways to help prevent over-eating is to eat. Often.

How many times have you anticipated a large meal, and “saved up” all day just to end up wolfing down your plate and feeling over-stuffed and uncomfortable? How many times have you been so busy during the day you’ve forgotten breakfast, skipped lunch, and made up for it (and more) at dinner time?

One of the most useful tips we can share with you is to nourish your body every 3-5 hours. It keeps your hunger cues in check, your metabolism going at a nice speedy pace, stabilizes your blood sugars, maintains your energy level, and keeps your holiday cheer up.

Over Do It. Sometimes.
Believe it or not, the occasional over-eating episode can actually be good for your metabolism.  If you make healthy, reasonable choices most of the time, your metabolism will speed up to counteract the high volume of food you just put in your body. The magic to this one is to practice moderation the majority of the time, and to stop feeling guilty if you over-indulge on occasion.

Believe in Santa, but be Realistic about your Diet.
If you’re hoping to lose some weight, this is not the time of year to do it. Focus on maintaining your current weight by making realistic, achievable choices the whole season through. Set yourself up for success, not setbacks. Love your family.  Love your friends. Love yourself.

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