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Surviving the Holidays

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Today at work was holiday season meal #1. Because let’s be honest, the temptations of the holiday season are all but limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. 
Our work place hosted a pot luck Thanksgiving meal and let’s just say there was an abundance of temptations. While I showed up with my salad with Honey Goat Cheese dressing, others showed up with the classics: candied sweet potatoes, homemade mac’n cheese, cranberries, green beans, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, homemade hot rolls, turkey, dressing, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and coconut pie. Morning meetings could not get over quickly enough. Once the line formed for the buffet, it took all the will-power in me to keep from cutting to the front of the line or physically scooting along the slow-poke in front of me. Yummm! Doesn’t food always taste better when you’re not the one cooking and cleaning up after it?
In true RD fashion, I tried a little bit of the most eye-catching dishes, and only one dessert: pumpkin pie cheesecake. I forgot to mention that one…but yes, there was pumpkin pie cheesecake and yes, it was as decadent as it sounds. I dug deep and limited to one plate of small portions. After all, negative behaviors cannot be reinforced by the dietitian’s lacking self control!! Just wouldn’t do good things for my street cred, you know?
A lot of my patients dread the holidays because of the implication is has on their waste line. Rest assured, self and all others, the holidays are not a time for expansion! Or guilt!
Here are some tips from your resident dietitian blog friend to get you through this season without any added poundage.
Don’t go hungry.
Hello, this is no different than grocery shopping, folks. Hungry bellies lead to bad decisions in excess. Holiday parties and meals are NO exception.
Bring something to share.
Nine times out of ten, you’re not alone in your healthy-eating indeavors. A lot of your friends, family, and co-workers are also watching something…whether it be their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, or weight. Healthy options are always appreciated. Plus, a plug for healthy, tasteful cooking is always a plus!
Limit the damage: calorie-free beverages to the rescue!
Be careful of wasting calories. Beverages are easy ways to send your intake over the top. Opt out of alcohol, or drink in moderation. And drink plenty of water, please! Bring your favorite calorie-free soda or flavored water so that you are able to enjoy a beverage of your choice.
Distance yourself from temptation.
If your family is anything like mine, desserts hang out on the table to taunt us all…nearly demanding second and third helpings. Same goes for appetizers. Put desserts and appetizers away from the crowd to avoid noshing and nibbling. BLT’s add up! Bites, licks, and tastes, that is! If appetizers and desserts are sitting out, position yourself away from the platters and plates. I once heard that you’re out of the “red zone” once you’re 15 feet from food. Make it happen!
Always survey the options.
Have you ever taken too large of portions and ran out of room on your plate before you got half-way through the buffet line? Did you just say to yourself, “Oops! I’ll be back for that next year?” No. You pile your food into a monument of mistake, or come back around for all that you missed. 
Before you start filling your plate at meals and parties, see what’s on the menu so that you can prioritize what you want the most. The majority of people enjoy most foods on a Thanksgiving spread, but can pass by quite a bit without feeling at all shafted. Get what you REALLY want and move on.
Wait it out.
If you find yourself wishing for seconds, take a 10-15 minute breather before heading back for more. Have a glass of water and re-assess in a few.
Go with a plate method.
If you’re serious about increasing the nutrition of your meal without the calories, opt for ½ your plate to be filled with vegetables and salad, ¼ to be filled with meat, and ¼ to be filled with potatoes, bread, casserole, etc. This insures you’re getting good balance and lowering the caloric damage of the meal.
Set goals.
Have a plan, write it down, and execute!
Start the day off right…exercise.
While many gyms are closed on holidays, sign up to run a local race or commit to going on a walk or run the morning of a holiday. Starting off the day with exercise can not only help balance caloric intake, but also get the tone set for the day: balance and health.
Don’t lose sight of what the holidays are about.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, or Chrismakah (for any OC fans out there!)…food and feasts are inescapable. Yet, they are NOT the focal point of holidays…or shouldn’t be, anyways. Focus, rather, on family, friends, faith, and fun…food is far secondary to all aforementioned.
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