Ten Tips to Holiday Eating Survival
Pepe Laflamme, M.Sc. Kinesiology, CPT Director, Nu-Form Fitness & Wellness
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's can be a real challenge to even the most steadfast. To make your holiday season less regretful and more thank-full, here are my Top Ten Tips for Holiday Season Survival...
1. Make sure you sneak in a walk or some exercise before you sit down to the family dinner or hotel buffet. Try to get everyone in on it and set a goal of thirty to forty-five minutes of total activity. It is a great way to converse with your family and friends, de-stress and get some fresh air.
2. Drink plenty of water, especially in the days prior to a large feast. Many times dehydration can be mistaken by your brain for hunger. Besides, water is vital to every single function in your body so make a point of getting at least three (3) liters of water every day.
3. Instead of setting the table with the "full spread" or attacking the whole buffet line at once, try to have a nice hearty salad (easy on the dressing, generous on the color and variety) and the soup course (not cream-based of course!) first and skip the rolls with butter. There are far better things to fill your belly ahead.
4. Rather than the same old rice, which raises blood sugar rapidly and encourages fat storage, try foods with Lower Glycemic Indexes, more fiber and therefore much more nutrition such as baked sweet potatoes or yams, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. If you are really a rice fanatic (we are on Guam, right?) try wild rice or brown rice made with dried cranberries and toasted almonds or walnuts.
5. Turkey is a tradition as well as a great high-quality, low-fat and alkaline protein source, so keep it on the table. To really keep healthy, prepare or only choose the turkey breast meat. Skip the gravy and try squeezing orange or grapefruit onto it for a moist, fresh and light flavor booster.
6. When fixing dishes or making selections from the buffet, try to stick with the more traditional Holiday dishes such as pumpkin, squashes, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberries, chestnuts, nuts, apples, citrus and the like. All are healthy choices if prepared simply (remember, naked food is cool!) and add to the festive feeling of the celebration.
7. When you "Dress Your Plate", try to keep it low-rise and make it appealing to the eye, by that I mean one healthy layer rather than piled high as Mount Lamlam with food. Finish that one plate for the main course and take a break; what a great time for another short walk! Eat slowly, enjoy each bite, savor it, let it reach your tummy and register in your brain so you don't over-eat. Your waist-line and ultimately your health will appreciate it!
8. Remember the "Sandwich Principle" or the New Food Pyramid when dressing your plate. Try to fill half the plate with vegetables (easy on the sauces and remember, you already had your salad too), a quarter covered with good low-glycemic, healthy-carbs (see #4), and the final quarter is for your turkey breast or perhaps light seafood if you are opting for the hotel buffet scene.
9. If you drink alcohol with dinner, try to stick to a single glass of a really great red wine; they tell us it is healthy in moderation, so if you drink, why not! I am no expert, but I would recommend a nice Antipodean Petit Verdot or perhaps a Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache.[Editor's Note: Both excellent choices!] They match well with holiday fare and even better, I checked for availability on-island! A nice Chai, spiced or citrus herbal tea can be special too if you want other beverage options - they work well hot or cold, sweetened with Stevia.
10. Holidays and desserts go hand in hand and they don't have to destroy your pursuit for a healthy lifestyle. Thank God for the Cacao Fruit and Bean; one of the richest source of phytonutrients in nature. I am talking chocolate here. Just make sure it is Dark Chocolate (at least 70% Cacao solids) to enjoy the health benefits without counter-acting them with all the calories and fat of milk chocolate. The Amazonians had it right, just melt it down slowly and gently, then use toothpicks to dip fresh strawberries or other berries into the chocolate. Dried apricots are great and kind of exotic too. Enjoy!
There you have it. Now, I don't expect you to incorporate all of the Top Ten Tips I gave, but if you can tackle at least three you should get away from that table, buffet line and through the holidays a lot healthier, happier and without an extra 7-10 pounds to worry about in 2006.
I look forward to sharing more with you next month. Please feel free to contact me at NuFormFitness@yahoo.com with your questions, comments and suggestions. Peace.