Top 10 Tips To Surviving The Holidays!

by Bethany Vessey, Registered Dietitian on December 17, 2013

The holiday season has officially begun and it’s about this time that many begin to panic slightly over the many holiday parties and events that continue to book up and how they will affect their health and wellness goals! Well no need to panic! Bethany Vessey, Registered Dietitian, with Synergy Fitness and Nutrition has put together her Top 10 Tips to coming out ahead after the holiday season!

Tip 1: One of the most important tips is to not miss ANY meals or snacks throughout your day! The holiday season is a busy time and there will be many opportunities when you will forget to eat a snack or meal. Many of you may think this is actually a good thing thinking this will allow you to eat more at the party that night, or that office treat, and not feel too guilty! Well unfortunately by doing this you are causing more harm than good. By not eating your recommend healthy meals and snacks throughout your day you will be more likely to overindulge on that office treat or at your party that night and the foods being offered are usually high fat, high sugar, high salt, and high calorie choices that will cause you more harm than good! By eating healthy throughout the day and not missing ANY snacks or meals you will be able to attend your holiday events feeling more in control and therefore better able to focus your attention on the company you are with instead of the sweets table in the room!

Tip 2: Speaking of office treats, this in the time of year that everyone feels the need to give. . . funny! Well maybe we can look at changing what we give! Many feel the need to give baked goods or boxes of chocolates, that many don’t really want to receive and dread seeing come through their door. Why inflict these unwanted guilty pleasures on your friends, family, and coworkers, and be more creative! Give gifts that are not food, like a flower arrangement that will not only brighten one’s day but will also not be followed with guilty feelings of over indulgence and regret! Skin care products, i.e., hand creams, also make a great gift for this dry season. Or maybe a warm knitted scarf!

Tip 3: If I cannot change your mind about baking over the holidays then maybe I can influence how you do it! Here are some baking techniques that can help reduce the calories and fat in your baked goods without sacrificing the taste! Try these suggestions, you never know your family and friends may even choose your cookies over Aunt Betty’s and possibly ask for the recipe!

❅ Reduce up to 700 kcal/recipe in fruit pies by cutting the sugar in 1/2!

❅ Increase the fiber by 12 grams/cup by substituting 1/2 of the white flour for whole wheat flour! Trust me no one will no the difference and you will feel better knowing you are helping your loved ones increase their daily fiber intake!

❅ Making a cheese cake? Substitute partly skimmed ricotta cheese for cream cheese and your could reduce up to 60 grams of fat/cup and increase the protein!

❅ For cakes and brownies use pureed apples or pumpkin instead of oil! This could save you up to 800 kcal and 100 grams of fat/cup without sacrificing the moist texture of your yummy treats!

❅ Freeze your holiday treats and only pull them out when your company stops by! This can help prevent you from eating those tasting treats more often than desired!

TIP 4: Keep up your current activity or start a new exercise program to help keep you more accountable over the holidays! Make sure you do not pass up workouts as your schedule gets busier! Plan ahead. Change your schedule to ensure you get your workouts in. Your workouts will not only help balance your energy intake but they will also help keep your mind balanced over what is usually a very busy and stressful time of year.

TIP 5: Get your sleep! Try to get a full night’s rest as often as you can. Not getting enough sleep can affect your immune system and elevate your stress during what is already a busy and stressful time of year. Getting enough sleep can also help you keep your calories in check. When we are tried many times we can find ourselves looking for comfort foods and/or sugar to give us that energy burst. For these reasons and more getting enough shut eye is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies.

TIP 6: Drink lots of water throughout the day. Many times when we feel hungry we are actually just thirsty. By drinking your water throughout the day you are helping to ensure you will not choose unhealthy, unnecessary choices later. Here are some helpful strategies to not forgetting to drink your water.

❅ Buy a 24 pack of water bottles and leave them in the trunk of your car, so when you realize you have not had enough water you have quick access to some water.

❅ Purchase a large reusable water bottle. This will reduce the amount of times you have to refill the bottle. How many have said “Oh I will refill that is a minute”, and then 3 hours later is still sits on your desk empty!

❅ Set a goal that is realistic for you, i.e., drink 4 glasses of water before noon and 4 before 5PM, then everything after that is bonus!

TIP 7: Don’t Drink Your Calories! With the holiday parties comes high sugar, high calorie, possibly alcoholic drinks. Did you know that 1 gram alcohol contains seven calories, and no health benefits? 1 shot of hard liquor can contain anywhere from 60-100kcal; beer could have 65-350kcal (depending on the size and kind); and cocktails could contain anywhere from 120-450kcal!!!! A good tip to ensure you don’t drink your calories is to try and have at least one glass of water in between every holiday drink.

TIP 8: Don’t let food be your focus over the holiday season! Get your family and friends involved in some fun activities during holiday events. For your parties suggest going sledding, ice skating, or for a

horse and sleigh ride. If your parties are indoors, try playing active games like charades, or have a scavenger hunt. Dancing
is a great way to burn extra calories so be sure to turn up the holiday tunes at your party and get everyone moving!

Tip 9: With the many holiday gatherings over the next 3 weeks, I have added some things to think about that will hopefully help you stay on track of your health and wellness goals!

❅ Don’t go to the party hungry!! Read TIP 1 again!!

❅ Watch for those hidden or sometimes forgotten calories, which can be found in your holiday drinks, creamy dips and sauces, and holiday treats.

❅ Going to a potluck? Bring something healthy to eat, like the recipe below. I know you want to be the star of the potluck table and you may think sweets is what will get you that award but trust me you will just get lost in all the sugar. Try to find creative, healthy, non-traditional items to take to your next potluck and I am telling you will be the star of the show!

❅ Don’t stand near the food table. Sounds like common sense but we all know how easy it is to end up at the food table in an in depth conversation with Uncle Joe!

TIP 10: Challenge yourself over these holidays to eat more veggies! Veggies can be a great filler and are packed full of nutrition and not calories! Here are some ways to increase your veggies while helping to not over indulge over the holidays:

❅ If you get to a party and you feel you need to have something, eat some veggies first. If you don’t want veggies then it is likely you are not hungry and you need to step away from the food table!

❅ Throughout your day have veggies as a snack with hummus or a yogurt dip.

❅ At your holiday dinner fill 3/4 of your plate with yummy veggies!

Yummy Holiday Recipe!

Cranberry Pecan Quinoa

6 Servings
2/3 cup cranberry, dried,
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, raw, finely chopped
1 cup quinoa, (dry measure)

2 cups low sodium chicken broth,
1 tbsp orange peel, raw
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup chopped, pecans
In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and orange juice; set aside.
In 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion in oil, stirring frequently, until softened. Add quinoa; cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth, orange peel and salt. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 10-15 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Fluff with fork.
Stir in cranberry mixture and pecans. Remove from heat; sprinkle with chopped thyme is desired. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 261; Fat: 12g; Carbohydrates: 34g; Fiber: 4g; Protein 6g

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