10 Health Tips on Surviving the Holidays

Author -- Dayna Hicken, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

It’s that wonderful time of year again, filled with family, friends, and lots and lots of food! Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track this year.

1. Do not be afraid to enjoy the bounty of wonderful foods at these social gatherings. Just be smart with it, by starting off with filling your plate with simple foods such as fruits, vegetables, green salads, grilled meat, roast turkey or chicken, or any seafood. If you choose to eat any high-calorie, high-fat sauces, gravies, or desserts, do so sparingly in small "tastes."

2. One plate of healthy food should usually fill you up. Before getting up for a second helping, try waiting about 10 minutes. Listen to your stomach, because usually the desire for more food is not about hunger, but about how good it tastes. This is why eating slower can be very beneficial for helping with portion control.

3. Keep up your regular physical activity and make sure to get in a good workout on the day of any party or event. NO excuses! Be super-diligent on non-party days by sticking closely to your eating and workout plan.

4. Many times eating a small, nutritious snack before leaving for the party can help to take the edge off of your appetite. More importantly it can help you have enough willpower to resist hours of being surrounded by tasty high calorie foods.

5. Ladies and gents, wear a comfortable but somewhat tight outfit that will not allow you to overindulge. It’s crazy how much less food people tend to eat when they are wearing a tight shirt because the are more aware of themselves.

6. Watch your alcohol calories -- they add up fast. Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-calorie beverages such as sparkling water. For best results just stick to a good old fashioned cup of ice water.

7. Be careful not to linger around the food table! Try moving to another location that is less tempting. Always sit down while you eat, it helps you feel more relaxed and eat slower.

8. Try to start a healthy tradition on the mornings surrounding each holiday. For example wake the whole clan up early for a bike ride or walk in the woods before you sit down to that scrumptious meal and day of football games. Family gatherings usually involve too much food and too much sitting around. Get everyone outside and moving any way you can.

9. Sugar has no place on vegetables. There will be enough sugar in your favorite dessert. Glazing is for doughnuts. This year, find ways to make side dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Avoid adding any unnecessary sugar and sodium.

10. Keep in mind that social gatherings during the holidays are a time to embrace and give thanks for our family and friends. Spend less time focused on food and more time enjoying the friendship of your loved ones.