Rena MendelsonProfessor, School of NutritionRyerson University
Newswise — As we welcome friends and relatives to our homes this holiday season, so too do we invite the high-fat and high calorie snacks many will bring with them. Below are some tips that will help you check overindulgence and weight gain at the door.
1. Do all of your shopping at a large mall where lots of walking will be required. Park your car far away from the door to further increase the amount of walking you’ll do.2. ‘Tis the season for specialty drinks that are loaded with calories. At the coffee shop order a small one and inquire about skinny options. For just a taste, skip the syrupy drinks and try a low-fat latte dusted with a little cinnamon and cocoa powder for holiday cheer. At holiday parties don’t max out on the signature fruity or creamy cocktail. Try alternating between liquor mixed with soda or other sugar-free drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. At the grocery store be on the lookout for low-fat alternatives; even egg nog now comes in a light variety!
3. Pack healthy snacks to take with you when you go shopping. Malls have too many unhealthy options and chances are a shopping marathon will drain you of your energy and you’ll find yourself at the food court. A healthy snack that includes protein will make it easier to resist junk food cravings. For example: • Part-skim cheese strings• Baked tortilla chips with low-fat bean dip• Dried fruit and nut mix• Single serving of water-packed tuna with crackers
4. You don’t have to miss out on all the holiday goodies, just make better choices. Cider is better than egg nog; gingersnaps and sugar cookies are better than cakes, pies and bars; candy canes are better than chocolates; angel food cake is better than Yule log; and fresh fruit is better than fruit cake.
5. Plan ahead. If you know you are going out for a holiday meal or to a holiday party in the evening, make low-fat, low-calorie food choices all day long and fit in a workout if you can. But, don’t starve yourself. You may be so hungry that you end up overindulging later.
6. Plan quick, easy meals for the week and stock your fridge with the ingredients you will need. That way when you’re running around at night you won’t need to resort to last-minute convenience and fast foods.
7. The holiday season is very busy, and it may seem difficult to find time to exercise. Why not dust off your exercise videos so you can fit fitness in your own schedule, not the gym’s? Also, make sure to hit the dance floor at all those holiday parties to sneak in some cardio. You could even start a new family tradition: an afternoon of skating.
8. Manage you holiday stress to prevent stress eating:• Break down your holiday to do list into manageable tasks.• Remember you don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Be realistic about how much time you have.• When you feel stress coming on, take a walk and/or breathe deeply while collecting your thoughts.
9. Volunteer to host the holiday party so you can control the fat and calorie content of the goodies. Search for lower fat low-cal treats like fresh fruit, air-popped popcorn and pretzels. If you can’t host, suggest a potluck so you know there will be something there that you can enjoy guilt-free.
10. During weeks where the parties and meals are numerous, make up for that extra food with more weight or resistance training. When the metabolic rate of your muscle tissue increases, your body will be better prepared to handle the extra calories.
11. All the rich meals you consume during the holidays are packed with sodium. Drink extra water to help flush out all that extra sodium.
12. When you’re at a holiday party, don’t hang out at the food table. Choose a small plate, rather than a large one, put two or three of your favourite selections on the plate and then walk away so you’re not tempted to keep picking at the food.
For more holiday tip sheets please visit Ryerson University's Holiday Media Room at http://www.ryerson.ca/news/media/spotlight/holiday2010/