by Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami, Florida
Ah, the holidays! All those tables brimming with meats, mince pies, and more. Chances are, you’re going to splurge a little. And that’s fine. Here’s what we always tell our guests at the Pritikin Longevity Center: Far more important than what you do at a few special events each year is what you’re doing the other 350 days of the year. Recognize the exceptions, don’t beat yourself up, and move on. But do keep in mind that for your health and waistline, there’s a big difference between a nibble here and there of holiday fare and inhaling a huge plate of sausage stuffing, a slab of prime rib, and two fat slices of pecan pie. To help our Pritikin guests enjoy the holidays and good heath, here are 6 key tips we teach:
1. Eat something before you go to the party.
Before leaving the house, sit down for a healthy snack, like fresh fruit, veggies, nonfat yogurt, or bean-rich soup. Curbing hunger can very successfully curb the temptation to binge at the buffet table.
2. Position yourself well.
Upon arrival at the party, don’t plant yourself in front of the appetizer table. Seek out other places and pleasures – a spot by the fireplace with good conversation and warm smiles. Those first few moments of the party can really set the stage, emotionally, for the rest of the event. Ultimately, you’ll have a much better time, and you’ll like yourself a lot more come morning.
3. Select first-course foods that are low in calorie density.
A big green salad, a plate of fresh fruit, and a side of roasted vegetables add up to a lot of food, but not a lot of calories. And because they’re so filling, you’ll have less room – and likely less desire – for the fattier, calorie-packed courses that follow.
4. When visiting relatives, stake out a little real estate in the refrigerator and pantry.
Here’s something our veteran guests at Pritikin say works especially well. When staying at relatives’ homes, they ask for a little space in the pantry for their Pritikin foods – oatmeal, for example, as well as cans of low-sodium soups, beans, tuna, and salmon, and in the fridge, their veggies, fruit, and nonfat yogurt. It’s comforting to know, especially when they get hungry, that their food is within easy reach.
5. Keep burning those calories.
Exercise is especially critical during this season of larger-than-usual meals. In addition to your regular workout, plan activities like walks, hikes, bicycle rides, and dances with family and friends. The extra calorie burning can really help control your weight, and you’ll enjoy some wonderful times together.
6. Be mindful about your eating.
During the holidays and throughout the year, one of the best ways to keep weight in check is to stay in tune with our appetites. When we’re aware that we’re starting to fill up, we’re more likely to push away from the table. To be aware, don’t multi-task when you eat. Take the time to sit at a table and eat slowly. Avoid eating while at the computer, in front of the TV, and in the car. You’ll recognize when you’re getting full and you’ll enjoy your food more.
What are some of the tips you use for staying healthy during the holidays?