Eating on the Run: Navigating the Eating Season
The holidays can be a challenge to your eating and training, and likewise for maintaining body weight. Most Americans will gain five pounds between Halloween and New Year’s due to the frequent succession of office treats, parties, family get-togethers, and social gatherings. The holidays are known as the “Eating Season.”
Tips and strategies to help you survive the Eating Season:
- Stay as close as possible to your normal eating and training schedule over the holidays. If need be, use your training as social time and get family members active too. If you’re traveling, hit a local gym or use Strava to find a new running route.
- Eat regular meals the day of the party. Always start with breakfast.
- Once you arrive at the party, survey the entire buffet before you make a decision. Don’t linger at the buffet.
- Fill-up a small plate with satiating food that contains protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Careful of sauces, dips, gravy, anything deep fried, hard meats and cheeses, and sugar-laden treats that are loaded with calories. Even moderation needs moderated.
- Make smart choices. Be choosy.
- Load up on lighter appetizers.
- Watch portion sizes.
- Drop out of the “clean plate club.”
- Eat slowly and enjoy conversation. Remember the reason for the season.
- Set an alcohol consumption limit.
- Have a glass of water between drinks.
- Eat, don’t drink, the majority of your calories.
- Listen to your body and stop eating once you feel slightly satisfied. Focus on making memories with your family and friends versus making memories from overindulgence in a meal.
- At the office, many people will unload leftovers from home get-togethers on co-workers. Be prepared and proactive in these situations.
- Continue to weigh yourself on a regular basis.
- Log your meals.
- If you have food allergies/sensitivities, bring supplements to minimize reactions and/or ask the host/hostess about ingredients.
- Enlist the support of a friend to keep you accountable for: training, food choices, and motivation.
- Slipping up on our training is going to happen from time-to-time, so no need to feel guilty. Enjoy the holiday season with friends, family, and co-workers, and get back on track as soon as you can.
Health Benefits of Your Favorite Holiday Foods
Food is an important component of the holidays, but for many people, it’s also a source of temptation that’s associated with stress and excess calories. Many people fail to realize that there are health benefits associated with many holiday foods. Keep your portions in-check this holiday season and eat these foods for maximum health benefits.
- Party nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews): a great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and fiber, which have been both shown to have an effect in lowering unhealthy blood cholesterol. One ounce (or one serving = 22 almonds) is the perfect portion.
- Turkey: a lean source of protein that can be found in just about any holiday meal. Three ounces provides about 26 g of protein which helps to stabilize blood sugar and keeps you satiated for a longer period. Turkey also contains tryptophan which is a precursor to niacin (vitamin B3) which is vital for digestive health and nerve function. Myth: there’s not enough tryptophan in a serving of turkey to produce the napping effect (Truth: it’s the larger than normal meal we’ve consumed!).
- Mashed or roasted potatoes: one cup of potatoes contains 32% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) for vitamin B6 which plays an essential role in red blood cell production, carbohydrate metabolism, and neurotransmitter production. Roast them with olive oil or garlic and use milk instead of cream for mashed to reduce saturated fat.
- Green beans: each cup of green beans contains about 45 calories making beans the best-guilt free option at the table. They have practically every vitamin and mineral present in their composition. Toss them with sliced almonds or mushrooms.
- Sweet potatoes: high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse. The fiber in sweet potatoes (about 4 g in a medium potato) promotes gut regularity. Try them roasted or mashed, and skip the marshmallows.
- Cranberry dishes: cranberries add antioxidant power to the holiday table thanks to vitamin C and vitamin E. Because they are tart, cranberries are usually sweetened, but try making them with less sugar or add another naturally sweet fruit such as oranges or clementines.
- Pumpkin pie: pumpkin is a great source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and zinc which have varied roles in the body from carbohydrate and fat metabolism, enzyme production, blood sugar control, skin integrity, energy production and antioxidant protection. Pumpkin seeds are also a nutrient powerhouse with just 1 oz (1/4 C) providing 75% of the DRI for manganese.