Making healthy choices over the holidays

Raise your hand if this is the time of year where you start to add a few pounds? Raise your hand if you use the holidays as an excuse to take a break from healthy eating or regular exercise? Raise your hand if you finish Thanksgiving dinner and wish you hadn’t gone back for that second helping or had that extra scoop of mashed potatoes? If you raised your hand to any of these questions, read on.  If you didn’t, you can read on anyway!

Many people are guilty of packing on the pounds between Halloween and New Years. I know I don’t have to explain why that is, the answer is obvious. With all the yummy “accessibles” between the end of October and the beginning of January, it is very hard to stay on track or get on track if you’re not there already. 

Bags and bags of candy enter the house in October, followed by a meal traditionally packed with carbs and salt and bad fats in November, followed by a month of candy canes, cookies and a few more high fat and calorie meals in December. We end the year with giant parties celebrating the year, welcome the new year with more celebration and then…. We feel ready to crawl into a cave and hibernate, right? 

I can’t lie and write to you all saying that I don’t have some minor (Oh, OK, and some MAJOR) slip ups during the holiday season, but I can be honest and say this is a choice I make. I make the choice to cheat here and there (and perhaps everywhere!) and then I pay for it come January. Maybe this is the year I will make a greater effort to change that. 

I read an article a while back (and sorry for the lack of reference, but I read a bunch and can’t recall) about holiday meals and how they only taste good because… You may have guessed, they are packed full of fat, salt and sugar.  To combat that, try to use lower fat options, such as skim milk instead of whole, use low-calorie sweeteners when a recipe calls for sugar and limit salt to half of what a recipe calls for, or even less. 

During the holidays, who doesn’t have a party to attend almost every week? Try to eat before you go out (a healthy light meal, of course), don’t use the “I’m saving all of today’s calories for the party tonight” mentality. That just encourages your starved body to overeat. Another temptation to overeat is standing near/next to the food tables at a party.  Find the space farthest away and you’re less likely to nosh.

I believe it was Weight Watchers who reported the fact that most Americans gain between 7-10 pounds during the holidays. YIKES!  I believe it’s quite unrealistic to say, “I’m going to try to lose weight this holiday season.” However, I don’t believe a goal of maintaining one’s current weight is unrealistic at all. Maybe that’ll be my short-term goal for the next month… maintain. 

Here’s how I’m going to start with my Thanksgiving meal:

                Use less bread in my stuffing and add more veggies.

                Put the gravy in the fridge, let it chill and skim the fat off the top.

                Peel the skin off the turkey and just eat the white meat.


Happy Thanksgiving to all The Zone Magazine Readers!  I’m thankful to be able to reach out to you through Wellness Wednesdays each week.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday. 

Carri Nelsen

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