By: Haley Guadagni, Nutrition Peer Counselor
We’re in week 7 of the fall quarter, and the holidays are quickly approaching! Holidays can be a wonderful break from our jam-packed schedules as we spend quality time with loved ones and relax, but they can also be a source of stress. Since holidays typically involve all-day appetizers and large meals followed by a couple helpings of dessert, many people think they should just throw their healthy eating habits out the window for a couple days, weeks or even months. However, it isn’t necessary to abandon your goals! There are several steps you can take to prevent post-meal bloat and sluggishness, as well as overall weight gain, all while enjoying your time off.
The first way is portion control during meals. This doesn’t mean you can’t get seconds! This means that you’re starting with a reasonable portion of food each meal. Try to avoid using the biggest plate you can find to pile on the food. Instead, use a normal-sized plate, eat and wait about 20 minutes. Then, go back for more if you still aren’t satisfied. Drinking enough water with and between meals is also a great way to prevent you from overeating and improve your digestion of the food you do eat.
Another way is quality control. You don’t have to eat some of every dish. Some dishes are healthier than others, so choose at least one or two things that have high nutrient value, anything containing fruits or veggies! But don’t deprive yourself. Making sure that you’re enjoying the meal is important – so if you want to try everything, get small amounts. If you’ve got your eye on some pie but don’t want to feel totally sluggish after the meal, try going for the veggie appetizer rather than the garlic bread earlier in the day.
Lastly, a non-nutrition related way to maintain your healthy habits is to include exercise. Going for a walk or jog with family or friends can be a great way to get your heart rate up, burn some calories and strengthen your relationships. Walking after meals can also improve your digestion and help relieve some of that food-baby bloat.
What should you not do to prevent holiday weight gain?
On common, yet ineffective way, is starving yourself until mealtime, to avoid extra calories. You may even do this by accident if you’re busy cooking, getting things in order, etc. However, fasting like this can actually slow your metabolism, which means your body won’t be as ready to handle the high amount of calories it receives later in the day. Eating a balanced breakfast will get your body using food for energy and keep you full enough to prevent you from becoming ravenous and overeating later.
Since breaks from school may still be busy, it may be hard to implement all of these steps; utilizing even one of these suggestions can help improve how you feel throughout the holidays. Focus on things that are most important to you.
How do you enjoy the holidays? Let us know in the comments!