’Tis the season for festive feasting — not the easiest time to keep the old waistline in check.
Fortunately, dietitians from Pennington Biomedical Research Center have come up with strategies and recipes to help you eat, celebrate and still fit into your pants.
They know. They know. It’s the holidays, and it’s south Louisiana where even a sunny day can spark a party. So getting through the next few weeks, when families and friends gather around tables filled with calorie-laden goodies and co-workers haul in tins of cookies and candy, can be a diet disaster.
Enjoy your favorites, even Aunt Lucy’s pecan pie and Maw Maw’s marshmallow-crusted yams if you must, the dieticians recommended. But, they advise, watch portion sizes, take a brisk walk or two and definitely lay off going back for seconds.
“Moderation is the theme of eating during the holidays,” says Renee Puyau, a registered dietitian with PBRC.
And, when you’re doing the cooking, substitute healthier ingredients, such as low-fat dairy; cut back on processed sugar and flour, and add chopped or pureed vegetables, fruit and nuts to recipes.
“Whenever you can, you want to bump up the nutrition without losing the taste,” Puyau says.
Gorging on a big meal on one day may not seem like that big of a deal, she says, but it puts a lot of stress on your system to digest it.
“When you think about how many calories you have to cut out the days following a binge day to make up for it, you realize it’s worth eating in moderation,” Puyau says.
And, as we all know, it’s usually not just one day.
Here’s PBRC’s tips to get you through the eating season without the dreaded holiday weight gain:
Eat breakfast, which can help prevent overeating later in the day.
Eat the “best for you” food options first.
Try to keep office goodies out of sight.
Bring healthy dishes to parties and family events.
Don’t hover around the buffet table; grab a few items and then step away so you are not tempted to graze.
Choose wisely, indulging in foods that are truly special and unique to the season.
Use smaller plates to help to keep portions in check.
Keep hydrated and fill up on water.
Beware of liquid calories from holiday beverages, such as eggnog and alcohol.
After you eat, pop a piece of gum or a mint into your mouth to curb the temptation to continue eating.
Don’t turn shopping sprees into eating sprees. Bring healthy snacks to boost energy or choose a restaurant with healthier options.
Add exercise whenever and wherever you can. If you don’t have time for your normal workout, try several 10- to 15-minute spurts of exercise throughout the day.