Tips on How to Avoid Holiday Overindulgences…

Holiday Health Pitfalls

In terms of staying fit, it’s the most blunderful time of the year. There’s the nonstop revelry, the hectic pace, and all those delicious dishes that lead us into temptation and far, far away from our more healthful routines. We certainly don’t want to be the Grinch who stole the Christmas cookies (have one!). But there’s a fine line between indulgence and overindulgence (have one, not 21!).

The good news: The average person doesn’t pack on that rumored 10 pounds over the holidays; studies show it’s really one to three pounds. The bad news: If you gain a little each year and don’t take it off, it adds up. The answer? Plan for situations and avoid the weight gain altogether. Here is help from Martha Stewart’s magazine on how to navigate the stickiest holiday scenarios, so you can wake up feeling energized and guilt-free on New Year’s Day.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Heading home can be stressful — from the clogged roads to flight delays. But your nervous noshing is preventable.

Carry-on Calories
Pack a healthy snack like whole grain cracker and cheese, an apple, or cut up veggies and nuts. And if you’re just bored, chew sugarless gum.

Think to Drink
To keep your spirits from flagging, drink water. Use the Hydration Calculator created by the Beverage Institute in Atlanta to find out how much you need based on age, weight, and activity level. When flying, drink two extra glasses. “Airplane travel is dehydrating: Air has about 60 percent humidity, but a plane cabin has only 15 to 20 percent,” says Maxime Buyckx, M.D., director of health and nutrition at the Beverage Institute. If you’re driving, don’t deprive yourself of fluids to avoid bathroom breaks; drinking and walking will help prevent blood clots that can occur after hours of sitting.

Pub Night
It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and all your old friends want to see if that cute bartender still works at the local hangout. The imbibing potential is massive.

Shift the Scene
Sitting in a bar eating nuts has little to do with celebrating Thanksgiving. Attempt to redirect friends to a less slothful pursuit, like ice skating, or skip pub grub for a potluck dinner at a friend’s house.

Get a Good Seat
If everyone has her heart set on a pub, choose the bar stool farthest from the snacks. When you’re talking and drinking, it’s easy to polish off 10 servings without noticing.  And studies show those are just bowls of bacteria.

Double-Fist It (Sort Of)
If you get a little buzzed, you will pretty much eat anything so alternate every alcoholic beverage with calorie-free club soda or seltzer.

Sip Smartly
Avoid highly caloric fruity or creamy cocktails and choose light beer (about 96 calories a glass) or wine (about 100). You’ll cut even more calories if you go for a wine spritzer, New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman, R.D., points out. Vodka or a Scotch and soda is even better. “You’ll drink much less, and avoid the bulge”. And, finally, don’t try to keep up with the boys. “Women metabolize alcohol at half the rate that men do.

Thanksgiving Day
You don’t have to choose between unbuttoning your pants after dinner or hurting Aunt Mabel’s feelings by spurning her famous sweet-potato casserole.

Fake the Food Coma
People feel pressured when a relative prods, “Eat, eat,'” But new studies show the day after a dinner, the host doesn’t remember how much people ate, just how many times people got seconds. Decide how much casserole you want and put less on your plate. The cook will be delighted when you politely go — for just a tiny bit more.

Splurge Selectively
Save your appetite for the meal. “Don’t go whole hog on the pigs in blankets beforehand.” At dinner, load up on all the skinless turkey and vegetables you want, and have a dollop each of two starches.

Make a Game Plan
Always eat your protein first; it’s the only nutrient that shuts off the brain’s hunger mechanism. Have vegetables second, and starch third — by the time you get to the carbs, you’re less prone to overeat.

Bring It
Be polite and fitness-savvy; contribute a healthy side dish to the meal.

Slice Up Your Slice
Go ahead and eat some pie. Keep in mind you can shave off 100 calories a piece by forgoing the crust. Pecan pie is 520 calories. Without crust, it’s only 420. Pumpkin is 320; without crust, my God, only 220! And remember, you will live to eat pie again. It’s not your last supper; you don’t have to eat like it is.

Office Orgies
You’re back in the office. But now it’s morphed into a bakery as clients send in treats and goodies by the truckload.

Stay the Course
Even though you’re suddenly working in corporate Candyland, stick to your normal routine. Have a good, fiber-rich breakfast and a good lunch with vegetables and protein, and you won’t be as tempted.

Hold Out for the Holiday
Ask yourself, is the treat really special? If it’s something you could get any time — like red and green M&M’s — skip it. If someone brings in something spectacular, have a small piece. But in general, put off partaking until the day before you leave for the holidays. That way, you don’t start a habit of eating sweets every day for three weeks.

Or send the Goodies Away
Recycle edible gifts. Repack them and mail them off! Or at least put them in the office kitchen, not on your desk: Wansink’s studies show that if a candy bowl is more than 6 feet away from a person’s desk, she will eat half as many pieces as when it’s in front of her.

Trolling the Malls
Shopping: It’s a tough job, but during the holidays, everybody’s got to do it. Just make sure you don’t end up starving and stumbling toward Cinnabon.

Drink Up and Pack Ammo
A mall’s fluorescent lights and concrete floors can be exhausting. Make sure you keep your energy up. Bring water and a snack, and if you do have to stop, sit and have a cup of tea  with whole milk and see how it refreshes you and fills you up! For lunch at the food court, go ethnic. Have steamed chicken and vegetables at the Chinese food station, or sushi with miso soup. Or opt for a healthy meal over a Happy Meal: McDonald’s chicken Caesar salad with Paul Newman balsamic vinaigrette is a good fast-food option. Then use that energy to burn calories — walk up the escalator and park far from your favorite flagship to sneak in some exercise.

Party Central
Between the family, the office, and the boozehound friends, you’ve got more parties to attend in the coming weeks than is humanly possible. But, in the name of holiday spirit, you’ll try.

Dress for Success
Wear something “fitted and fabulous,” so you’re reminded to be conscious of your clothes not popping. If you’ve got post-cocktail dinner plans and don’t want to fill up on hors d’oeuvres, keep your hands occupied by carrying a clutch and a beverage.

Eat Before you Meet
Don’t arrive famished, don’t leave stuffed.  Have a pre-party snack before an engagement. A mix of protein, carbs, and fats will keep you satisfied longest; try whole grain crackers or vegetables and cheese, or a cup of whole milk cottage cheese. Once you arrive, look for the healthier options, like crudites, shrimp, and chicken skewers. Sushi averages just 30 calories per piece. If you know your fattier favorites are going to be there, go ahead and enjoy them, just don’t “save room” by starving all day. That’s a recipe for a binge!

Set the Scene
Always place snacks on “a serving piece,” even if it’s just a napkin. Then sit down. If you’re standing and grabbing mindlessly from platters, you overeat. In a buffet situation, people consume two to two-and-a-half times as much as they would normally. To avoid this, reach for a salad plate, not a dinner plate. We eat more when we’re given a bigger container. Period.

Pour a Tall One
Studies also show that people overpour liquid when using wide glasses. If the host’s entire barware collection is out, pick a tall, skinny champagne flute instead of a big Barolo wine glass and you’ll drink less. To keep track, always pour a new drink (tactfully decline refreshers) and save the cocktail napkin from each one so there’s no denying how many beverages you’ve imbibed.

Sleep It Off
If you’re out a lot, make sure you get enough shut-eye. The average person needs eight or nine hours, more in winter because our bodies are programmed to sleep when it’s dark. People who don’t sleep enough are more prone to weight gain because of hormone disruptions.

December 21
Festivity fatigue sets in. You wake up hungover, bloated, and wanting to curl up with a log of Nestle Toll House cookie dough until mid-January.

Go Back to Bed
Sleeping enables your body to digest alcohol. You burn off about two-thirds of a drink per hour.  This rate may slow while you’re sleeping, so give yourself extra time to rest after a night out.

Cut Out the Hair of the Dog
Instead of more booze at brunch, down tomato juice — the fructose will help your body metabolize alcohol more quickly. Use it to wash down a magnesium supplement to remedy the depletion that occurs when you drink alcohol.

Chill Out
Hit the gym, watch a “Bond” marathon, meditate — whatever it takes. High stress levels lead to weight gain. Just 10 minutes of yoga a day can keep your levels normal.  Exercise also helps. But you should work out to maintain fitness and sanity, not for a full-body makeover. Try not to pressure yourself to lose weight now or you’ll feel deprived. It’s more important to keep all systems normal.

Get Back on the Horse
If you eat a lot one day, it’s not a big deal as long as the next day you have a healthy breakfast, go the gym, get back to your routine.  So don’t pig out, give up, and table fitness until 2010. “The more you say ‘tomorrow,’ the more you’ll weigh tomorrow”.

Here are some ideas of healthy dishes you can bring along to your next event….

Roasted Almonds with Lemon and Salt

* 3 cups unblanched almonds

* 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice

* 2 tablespoons sea salt

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Soak nuts in juice for 30 minutes. Remove nuts with

a slotted spoon. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Place the nuts in a large bowl; toss with

salt and oil. Return nuts to baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes longer, or

until lightly browned.

Comments: Though this snack takes a little prep work, make a batch and enjoy

throughout the week. Soaking almonds in lemon juice creates a subtle citrus

flavor that’s enhanced by a sprinkling of salt. This recipe packs enough fat and protein to keep you satiated until


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White Bean Dip with Rosemary Olive Oil

Rosemary oil adds rich flavor and color to this earthy dip. If you

are short on time, top instead with sea salt and olive oil.

Yield: 2 cups

1/4  cup        olive oil, divided

2                    cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2                     cans (15 oz. each) white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, or

                       white kidney beans), drained and rinsed

2      Tbs         fresh lemon juice

2      tsp         sea salt

3                    sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed

1. In a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir half the olive oil and the

2 cloves garlic until fragrant, being careful not to brown garlic, about 1

minute. Pour the oil and garlic into a food processor. Wipe out the pan and

set aside.

2. Add white beans, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor and whirl

until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl.

3. Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons

olive oil and the rosemary sprigs. Warm the rosemary in the olive oil until

fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rosemary doesn’t

burn. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.

4. Set the rosemary aside and drizzle the olive oil over the bean dip. Mince

one teaspoon of the rosemary leaves and sprinkle over the dip.

Party short-cut: Use the white bean dip as the foundation for an abundant tray of store-bought snacks, including hummus and baba ghanoush, olive tapenade, carrot sticks, and other vegetables. Serve with rice or pita chips, and a thinly sliced baguette.

 Do-ahead tips: Make dip up to 2 days ahead. Store dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring dip to room temperature before serving. Prepare the rosemary oil right before serving.

Source: Sunset, NOVEMBER 2005

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Deviled Eggs with Cucumber, Dill and Capers

A mix of Dijon mustard, briny capers, chopped cucumber and dill brings unexpected flavor and crunch to deviled eggs.  These delicious appetizers are high in protein and calcium.

 Yield: 16 eggs

8      large                  eggs, hard boiled

1/4  cup                   whole milk  plain yogurt

1/2  teaspoon        Dijon mustard

1/4  teaspoon        freshly ground pepper

1      tablespoon    chopped fresh dill

2      tablespoons   capers, roughly chopped

1/2                            cucumber peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1. Cut eggs in half length-wise.  Transfer 3 yolks to a medium bowl and mash

with fork until smooth. Stir in yogurt, mustard, pepper, dill, capers and

cucumber.  Spoon filling into egg whites.

2. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.  Garnish with

dill sprigs.

Recipe Source: Martha Stewart Living

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Pretty hard for most people to do since they like to enjoy, get away, and indulge on vacations.


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