Editor’s Note: Recipes are at the end of this column.
By Lori Dodds, BS, RDN, LD
Festive gatherings and holiday preparations often involve a bounty of tasty treats and cut into time usually spent on exercise, sleep and general relaxation. If you’d like to make this year different, and celebrate the New Year without weight gain, consider the following tips:
Commit to moving: Keeping up with programmed activity helps other healthy habits flourish by creating a chain reaction. Including at least 30 minutes of daily movement can improve sleep, mood and metabolism … just what you need to survive the onslaught of holiday food, activities and emotions that many experience during the season.
Commit to regular and balanced meals: Making time for meals, especially breakfast, is another keystone habit that helps everything else fall into place. Even though you may have a smaller appetite, your body will reward your effort to meet your basic energy and protein needs. Use your creativity and planning skills to keep it simple.
Get your rest: Recent studies have revealed what many have experienced first-hand: that sleep deprivation enhances appetite, and increases cravings for easy-to-overeat foods like sweets, chips, breads and pasta. If that’s not enough, sleep deprivation zaps energy and enthusiasm for exercise. (See column below)
Scan your food environment: You can limit the potential for mindless eating by keeping holiday sweets out of sight. Rather than filling a jar with candy, use ornaments, candles or beads to spread holiday cheer. Make an arrangement with co-workers and family to keep temptations out-of-sight.
Avoid mindless eating: Approach meals, snacks and holiday events mindfully. Notice how your thoughts and emotions may affect your choices. Take a few moments to organize your intentions; give yourself a time-out and a deep breath or two to stay on course.
Think your drink: Holiday beverages probably contain more calories than you realize and they don’t typically reduce one’s appetite for other foods. In fact, alcohol may relax your resolve, so know yourself on that front.
Be assertive: If the people around you seem to be forcing food on you or commenting on your choices, be prepared to stick up for yourself with a simple and assertive comeback such as “No thank you; it looks wonderful, but I have definitely had enough.” When you say it because you mean it and without apology, it isn’t so hard to do.
Focus on self-care and thankfulness: When you take good care of yourself, rather than over-extending and experiencing negative stress, you can be a better friend and family member to others and thankful for each new day.
Have a party strategy
Before you go to a holiday party or gathering, visualize how you want to proceed:
- Plan your eating through the day so that you don’t show up hungry. In other words, you may want to have a snack or light meal beforehand if it will have been a while since you had last eaten.
- Think about who will be there, what variety of food and beverage will be offered, and lay out a realistic strategy to follow.
- If the event is pot-luck, take a healthy dish to share. Chances are good you will be thanked by others trying to maintain holiday balance.
- Consider how you want to feel when you get home and keep that in mind if you find yourself wavering from the plan.
Holiday Chaos Calmer
Soothe away holiday stress with this relaxing brew. The active ingredient is chamomile tea, which acts as a mild sedative that may help ease anxiety. Blending the fragrant tea with sweet apple cider and cozy cinnamon creates a comforting drink that feels like a warm hug on chilly winter evenings.
Combine 1/2 cup cider and 1/2 cup water in a mug and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until boiling. Add one chamomile tea bag, one strip of lemon peel, one cinnamon stick, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and cinnamon stick, take your first sip…and breathe a sigh of relief. Makes 1 (1 cup) serving. 60 calories per serving.
Recipe by Joy Bauer, RD. For more low-calorie holiday drinks, go to www.joybauer.com/photo-gallery/6-festive-holiday-drinks/holiday-chaos-calmer
Breakfast Quinoa Bites
Get off to a good start with a balanced breakfast that includes enough protein to keep you going strong until lunch.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup of your favorite veggies (spinach or zucchini work well), 1 cup shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Portion into a lightly-greased mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. These are easy to bring along and delicious to enjoy warm or cold.
Lori Dodds is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department. She is also the Program Coordinator at The Corvallis Clinic Weight Loss Center.