The War on Holiday Indulgences

by: Stacy R. Erb, Office Manager

Ahhh December… Like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  The holiday season is full of giving, family, friends and gatherings.  But can we be completely honest for a brief moment?  It is also full of calories and overindulgence. 

We all know that February is “Black History Month.”  October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”  I think that December should officially be dubbed “Overindulgence Month!”   I wonder how many of our New Year’s Resolutions are truly driven by our behavior in December.  Better put – how often do we rationalize all overindulgence in December because we already know that January will bring a “clean slate.”

With every plate of cookies and fudge that is delivered to our homes or workplaces, we stray a little bit more and more from our normal eating habits and indulge.  After all, it is Christmas!  Heaven forbid the plate of cookies goes to waste.  Sadly – the plate of cookies goes to waist.

What about the holiday parties?  We have our office Christmas parties or we have the “Tacky Christmas Sweater” party at our friend’s house.  And what party is complete without free flowing wine and spirits?

And then the dinners with the family!  We should all be done after plate number one… but for some reason, we have a plate number two or three!  And don’t lie – you know that there is gravy on most of those plates!  After all, Grandma would be devastated if you did not have at least two heaping helpings of her world famous candied yams! 

How can we combat the overindulgence?  We can refuse cookies and homemade fudge, abstain from all alcohol, pack our very own healthy salad while the family sops up the extra gravy with buttermilk biscuits and have a fruit bowl instead of cheesecake or some other whipped cream covered confection.   For the super disciplined, this is not a problem.  What about the rest of us mortals?  Are there any practical tips to help combat the overindulgence but still allow us to be a part of the festivities without being a Grinch?  Here are seven basic and practical tips.

Tip #1 – Religiously take a multi-vitamin and take some extra vitamin C.  This will help balance your body and boost your immune system.

Tip #2 – Allow yourself a SMALL indulgence daily.  If you are a Starbucks fiend, order a tall instead of a venti.  If you are baking for family/friends, give every single baked good away and don’t keep some at home “for the kids/husband.”  If you work in a place that gets an abundance of desserts as holiday appreciation, step back before you plate up.  Look over the choices and pick only one item!  And make that item last.  Savor each bite.  Do not inhale.  And do not pick an entire cheesecake as that one item!  Keep your serving size appropriate!

Tip #3 – Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.  Drink water galore this whole season!  The more hydrated you are, the better your body can combat the stress of the season (and the less likely you are to have a hang-over).

Tip #4 – MOVE!  If you are not someone who exercises regularly, this is the time to start!  And I do not mean you need to go to a gym and run on a treadmill for 30 minutes like a hamster.  Just find ways to move more daily.  It can be as simple as taking the dog for an extra walk or two or lapping the mall one or two times window shopping before you make that final purchase of the most perfect gift.

Tip #5 – Limit yourself to one plate at every gathering!  And make that plate count!  A fun trick to limit your serving size, while still letting you enjoy all of the holiday offerings, is to not allow any foods on your plate to touch!   You can enjoy mashed potatoes, candied yams, casseroles, etc. but just in smaller portions!  And by playing this little game with yourself, you naturally will pick out only the foods that you really want.  

Tip #6 – Put your spoon or fork down between each and every bite.  Our eating utensils are not intended to be shovels!  By actively placing the spoon or fork back on the table, you will chew your food more thoroughly (the first step of healthy digestion), enjoy the people you are with and feel more satisfied with a much smaller amount of food.  You will eat much more slowly using this tip.  There is approximately a 20-minute lag between your stomach and your brain.  If you shovel the food in, by the time your brain says, “We are satisfied.  There is no need for anymore food,” you will have already eaten well beyond capacity.  Eating slowly and savoring each bite will help you to stop before you are stuffed.  And better yet, there will be no need for the “food coma” nap.  You will have an awesome opportunity to play with your kids/nieces/nephews/grandchildren or you will be able to catch the end of the game/movie that everyone will be talking about on Monday!

 Tip #7 – Start each and every day with a healthy, high protein breakfast!  You should do this daily, but many of us do not!  Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will help you to feel more satisfied throughout the day and will limit the number of calories you consume.

Tip #8 – SLEEP!  Make sure you are getting seven hours of sleep a night, at the very least!  A tired person makes poor food choices.  When your body is tired, you eat something for energy.  If you find that you have trouble sleeping, examine your evening patterns.  So many of us are on the computer or watching tv before we finally turn in.  Avoid the computer and tv for at least one hour prior to bedtime.  I think you will be shocked at how quickly you fall asleep and how deep your sleep truly is!



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