This time of year is filled with holiday cheer, gatherings, and lots of great food. For many folks the holiday season means eating more than usual, putting on a few extra pounds followed by weight loss being a New Year’s resolution goal. However, the holiday season doesn’t have to include weight gain if you eat in moderation, use portion control, and exercise regularly. It’s important to take a healthier approach to what we eat during the yuletide.
The American Heart Association offers several tips toward a healthy approach. Small changes make a big difference.
- Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
- Eat when you’re hungry. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.
- Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
- Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
- Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas in which you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes.
Editor’s Note: Keyla Garcia, MPH, CHES, is a health educator with Montefiore Health System’s Office of Community & Population Health.