October marks the beginning of the holiday season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas to New Year’s Eve — ‘tis the season for baking, eating and packing on the pounds. The average American adult gains one to two pounds between October and January. And, while that may not seem like much, those can be stubborn pounds indeed.
Why begin your New Year trying to lose the extra weight you put on celebrating with friends and family? Approach the holiday season the healthy way and you won’t have to make that resolution. Here are some tips to help.
While it’s the kids who go trick-or-treating, let’s be honest — most parents eat just as much (if not more) candy than their children. Stay smart this Halloween by remembering these four pieces of advice.
Eat dinner first.
Plan a healthy meal for the family to eat together before heading out for trick-or-treating fun. Filling up on healthy foods first will help keep your kids from eating more candy than they can stomach.
Hand out healthy treats.
Set a good example by handing out wholesome treats such as granola bars, apples, clementines or savory snacks (like single servings of pretzels or cheese crackers) instead of candy. Just be sure your Halloween treats are pre-packaged rather than homemade.
Offer toys instead.
Think rub-on tattoos, glow sticks, Play-Doh, crayons, etc. Your local dollar or party store is stocked full of affordable non-candy treats you can hand out to trick-or-treaters.
Donate leftover candy.
Let your children pick out a handful of their very favorite treats and donate the remainder to a good cause. Area doctors, dentists and other businesses participate in the annual Halloween Candy Buy Back, offering creative exchanges for kids who bring in their candy. The Halloween treats are collected and shipped to U.S. troops stationed overseas via Operation Gratitude. Click here to find a Buy Back event near you.
Too many baked goods and endless party buffets won’t do your waistline any favors. Here’s how you can enjoy these holidays without overdoing it.
Keep portion size in mind.
It’s OK to enjoy a holiday meal, but there’s no need to stuff yourself. Stay sensible and healthy by opting for proper portions. Start by using a smaller plate and skipping the seconds.
Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
Fill half of your plate with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Just make sure the fruit isn’t covered with sugar and the veggies smothered in gravy.
Get your protein.
Turkey is one of the leaner meat sources of protein available. However, one serving of meat is just three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. Stick to lighter colored meat (breast instead of drumstick) with the fatty skin removed.
They’re a staple of any holiday meal, but starchy foods like yams, dinner rolls and stuffing should make up no more than one-quarter of your plate. If you’re in charge of the menu, try subbing in some healthier recipes, like mashed cauliflower instead of the traditional potatoes.
One taste is enough.
When it comes to desserts, pick just one. Look for the less indulgent options — pumpkin pie is a better choice than chocolate cake — and treat yourself to a small serving.
Holiday parties can be true smorgasbords, and it can be tempting to sample the entire spread. Don’t. Grab a small plate and make one trip through the buffet line. Every little bite of food adds up, so eat a meal rather than munching here and there all evening long.
Beverages are packed with calories, too — especially spirits. Before raising a toast to ring in the coming year, have a plan for partying responsibly.
Keep a glass or bottle of water in your hand throughout the evening, sipping on it all night long. Stay hydrated to keep your stomach feeling fuller longer. If you’re feeling satiated, it will help you curb your cravings and encourage you to make healthier choices.
Pick your vice.
Whether it’s a scrumptious dessert, a sweet cocktail or a savory appetizer, choose just one and enjoy it. Focus the remainder of your evening on healthy options, like munching on fresh fruits and veggies and avoiding junk food.
Snack before you party.
Eat a healthy snack before you head out to your New Year’s Eve celebration so you won’t be ravenous when you arrive. If you’re excessively hungry, it will be much harder to resist filling up (and then some) at the party.
Finally, and most importantly, remember that the holiday season is about more than food. Focus on spending time with the ones you love, enjoying good conversation, sharing gifts and playing games. With a little foresight and effort, you can enjoy the holiday season without any regrets.