The holidays are a particular challenge for those of us who know we must be vigilant every day to maintain our health through good eating. (Actually, that’s pretty much everybody.) Here are some of the challenges, and how to meet them.
The holiday party, with its buffet of delectable treats, many of them high-fat – cheese plates, crackers, cookies made with real butter, rich drinks such as egg nog – can be faced and handled by using some of the following tricks:
- Drink a glass of skim milk before attending the party. It’s nutritious, filling, and will keep you from giving in and wolfing down too many hors d’oeuvres. And it’s great padding if you decide to have that one alcoholic drink you allow yourself at a party.
- Bring a bottle of sparkling water with you, in case it isn’t available at the party. Fill your glass with this festive-looking drink, or dilute your one glass of wine with it, making two or more bubbly spritzers.
- Station yourself as far away from the table as possible, so that you won’t be continually tempted by the sight and smell of food.
- When you do approach the buffet, fill up on vegetables (easy on the dip) first; then select the richer “goodies.”
- Decide in advance what you will eat, and how much of it. Want to treat yourself to a little bit of cheese? Pick the harder type of cheese (lower in fat). Try putting it on a vegetable, such as a celery stalk, rather than a cracker.
- Avoid automatic eating by keeping your hands occupied with holding a glass (of the above mentioned sparkling water or spritzer) while you are engaged in conversation.
- Don’t try to match the speed or amount that your partner is eating (easy to do), particularly if your partner is larger than you are. After all, would you put the same amount of fuel in a small compact car as you would a big SUV? No? Well, then…
- Do mindful eating: savor each bite by leaving each one at the front of your mouth longer than you usually do. Then slowly let it move through your mouth, noting the point at which that particular food really stimulates your taste buds and enjoying it to the max.
- If you don’t get a real thrill from a certain food, be willing to discard the rest of it uneaten. If you’ve looked the tray over and selected one brownie, be willing to get rid of it if you think it doesn’t taste like the best brownie the world (or at least you) has ever known.
In short, make sure the actual experience of the feast matches your anticipation by making mindful, better choices. You’ll end up not only healthier, but happier as you realize you savored the experience and at the same time maintained some control over your future.
Lynette Crane, M.A.(Psychology) and Certified Life Coach, has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress management. She currently works to provide stress and time pressure solutions to harried women, those women who seek “Islands of Peace” in their overly-busy lives. Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.
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