By Kimberly Williams
We have all been there. You work your butt off during the summer months to feel and look your best, then WHAM! It’s the end of December and all of that hard work on your health has disappeared as extra weight appears. Come Jan. 1, you find yourself trying all over again to re-establish healthy habits.
The struggle with the holidays is that there are a lot of foods high in saturated fat, sugar-filled drinks and less movement during these colder months. This combination results in a higher calorie intake and a lower energy expenditure, which then leads to those pesky holiday pounds.
How can you combat this? Here are a few tips and tricks to focus on throughout the holidays as a “party-goer” and a “party-thrower:”
If you have no control of the ingredients that are going into the food being served, this is the guide for you.
• Focus on filling your plate half-way with fruits and vegetables. I’m not talking the heavy green-bean casserole that we all know and love. I am talking salad greens with light dressing and fresh fruit. The rest of your plate can be filled with whatever you like. Eat the fresh fruits and veggies first, and you will end up eating more fiber and fewer overall calories.
• Avoid snacks and starters that are not found on the edges of the grocery store. The foods on the perimeter of the grocery store are less processed. This is where things like fruit, veggies, fresh meat and cheese exist. The less processed a food is, the better.
• Focus on avoiding "liquid” calories. Focus on consuming zero-calorie liquids. If this is unavoidable (ahem, alcohol), shoot for a the light option such as a vodka soda with lime.
A few tips and tricks to aid in the cooking of the holiday meal.
• Substitute applesauce for butter in baked goods. Replace the half of the butter in your recipe with applesauce. If the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use a half cup of butter and half cup of applesauce.
• Use oils that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids when cooking. Oils high in monounsaturated fat - olive oil, avocado oil and sunflower oil - are best for heart health.
• Replace desserts with a fruit parfait or fruit salad. A fall-colored fruit salad will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, provide fiber and nutrients, and be a refreshing last course.
These are just a few small ideas to focus on this holiday season. Try them out, your body will thank you!
Kimberly Williams is a Registered Dietician and Personal Trainer at Feed Your Soul Fitness – FeedYourSoulFitness.com.