Top Strategies to Make the Holidays Healthier

When you are trying to lose or manage your weight, the holidays can be tough. Tempting foods and social pressure can easily derail your best intentions.

Our Health Coaches have shared their favorite strategies for navigating the challenges of the season. Find a few that work for you and you could be heading into the New Year energized with momentum towards your weight and health goals.

FIRST, CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENTS WITH ACTIVE PLANNING

Use the "ADD - ENJOY - AVOID" approach

What foods will you ADD to your shopping list and your menu? Make sure you have plenty of condiments, add-ins, extra HMR foods and fruits and vegetables on hand. Prep and plan as much as you can in advance, so you have meals and snacks ready when you want them. Phase 2/maintenance tip: Incorporate portioned servings of lean proteins and whole grains to round out your meals.

Plan ahead of time which foods you will ENJOY. Try a new recipe that can help you reinvent a seasonal favorite:

Decision-free diet:

Mint Hot Chocolate
Candy Cane Shake

Healthy Solutions diet:

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cauliflower Soup
Thanksgiving-in-a-Dish
Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Phase 2:

Gingerbread Oatmeal
Fall Salad
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Phase 2/weight maintenance tip: Make a plan for the foods you want to ENJOY (a special dessert, a favorite dish). Be intentional about portion control and be sure to keep your home (and any other places you spend your time) free of ongoing temptations.

AVOID bringing foods into the house that you don’t want to eat or could be a problem for you. Maybe they’re foods you don’t even love but tend to eat anyway because they are there. Or maybe there are foods that you tend to eat at the same time each year. Remove these from your home or keep them out of sight.

Don’t “save your calories” for your holiday meal. Eat like you normally would throughout the day to avoid feeling ravenous and overeating at your holiday meal. In fact, the strategy of “front-end loading” (eating before you go) helps a lot of people avoid temptation or over-eating in challenging social situations. Before you go anywhere, make a filling shake or have an entrée with lots of vegetables.

Keep a physical activity routine in place. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk (15 minutes out and 15 minutes back), do something every day. It keeps you connected to your goals, and can help manage stress too!

Don’t skimp on sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep can lead to low energy and overeating.

Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Focus on a variety of colors and aim for 2 full cups with your meals.

Have a solid, detailed plan for dessert:

Phase 1: Make a seasonal HMR Shake or Pudding recipe, microwave an HMR Double Chocolate Chip bar for 15 seconds (it’s just like Lava Cake!), or fill your dessert plate with fruit then top it with an HMR 70 Plus pudding or chop up an HMR Bar and sprinkle on top.

 Phase 2: Fill your dessert plate with fruit, then add a small portion of your favorite dessert. Savor and enjoy every bite. You could also try any of the Phase 1 strategies shared above.

After the meal, go for a walk or play a game. Seek out activities like playing with the kids or catching up with a relative that will take you away from the kitchen and into the moments of laughter and joy with family and friends.

Author
Scott Isaacs, MD Endocrinologist and Weight Loss Specialist

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