- David P. Willis Asbury Park (N.J.) Press
For the next several weeks, we'll be eating one big meal after another.
Oh, the parties we're going to:
• A Thanksgiving smorgasbord with turkey, mashed spuds, stuffing and pumpkin pies.
• The work party with trays of Italian sausage and pasta.
• The get-togethers at friends' houses every other night.
• Uncle Joe's house tomorrow.
• Delicious fish and Italian specialties on Christmas Eve.
• And roast beef and ham on Christmas.
More eggnog please.
"Everyone likes to indulge, and the holidays give them the excuse to when they might not otherwise during regular times," said Debbie Peterson, a certified health coach at Nourish in Red Bank, N.J.
But you can keep from eating too much whether you have a weight loss goal or are just trying to keep your waist from expanding. And you don't have to skip dessert.
"It's all about being mindful of yourself and being honest with yourself," said Meaghin Svenson, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. "At the same time, it is a special time of the year with parties and family gatherings, and it's important to enjoy yourself."
How do you do it? Peterson and Svenson have 10 ideas.
1. Don't go hungry. Have a snack before you go to the party and make sure it includes fruit and whole grains, Svenson said.
Try whole wheat toast with peanut butter and strawberries. The carbohydrate and protein combination will help keep you full.
2. Watch the drinks. Alcoholic drinks and even beverages like eggnog are full of calories.
"Drinking that fruit punch could have the same sugar content as eating three pieces of bread," Svenson said.
3. Drink water, water, water. Get a glass of water and keep it with you.
"The more you drink water, the less you are going to eat," Peterson said. And hey, everyone should drink more water, right?
4. Choose quality over quantity. We all know that everything on the buffet line isn't great.
Plan to eat something you'll really enjoy, like that piece of pumpkin pie or Christmas cookie, Peterson said.
"What do I really want?" she said. "I am going to enjoy that one of piece of pie, and I am going to really enjoy it."
5. Suggest a potluck. If you are invited to a potluck get-together, bring something healthy that you want to eat, such as vegetables with a Greek non-fat yogurt dip and hummus.
"You can only control what you put in front of you," Svenson said.
6. Use a small plate. Filling up a small plate is not the same as scooping a pile of food on a big plate.
"When I go to a buffet, "I always use the small plate," Peterson said. "It's a matter of fooling your brain."
7. Pile on the vegetables. Grab the green vegetables for your plate first.
Next comes a protein, such a piece of chicken, followed by the starch.
"You can't go wrong having more vegetables, and they'll fill you up too," Peterson said.
8. Eat slowly. Savor and taste your food. Enjoy every bite.
"We tend to eat too fast sometimes and go up for seconds and thirds," Svenson said.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it's full, she said. So enjoy, and wait after you're finished.
"At that point, you will realize you're full."
9. Get physical. Move after dinner, even low-impact playing with the kids or pets.
"Just take a walk with your family," Peterson said. "You'll feel better about yourself and the choices you make if you include some physical activity that you like."
10. Be easy on yourself. If you fall off the wagon, don't worry; tomorrow is another day.
"We're all human, Svenson said. "If you decide, 'You know what: I am just going to enjoy myself at this party and the rest of the week or tomorrow I am going to .. get back on track,' I think it's OK to fall off the wagon.
"If we don't supply our body with the food that we're craving, it becomes something you're constantly going to chase after," she said. "Then you're going to have that time where you just eat uncontrollably all those sweets and high fat foods. Giving in here and there is really important."