December 24, 2008

Ten Tips for Healthier Eating Habits at the Holidays

By Kathy Kim
Graduate Student, SDSU School of Public Health

Many of us feel overstuffed and lazy for days after the holidays. Every year we struggle with this “stuffed tamale” syndrome - feeling bloated, sluggish, and left slumped on the sofa. This syndrome makes us feel guilty because it decreases the likelihood that we will be physically active. To help prevent this syndrome this holiday season, make a few simple changes to improve your eating habits at holiday events.

The time between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years is one long eating fest shared with co-workers, church groups, neighbors, and family. It is extremely hard to avoid over-eating. Traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners provide an overabundance of food that tempts us to overeat. Instead of denying yourself these pleasures, just modify what and how you eat by following these TEN tips to healthier eating this holiday.

ø First, drink a large glass of water fifteen minutes before eating so you feel fuller before your meal and thus less likely to overeat.

ø Second, have a light, healthy snack about an hour before you arrive at the event, so you are not as hungry when you arrive.

ø Third, remove any fat, skin, or fried coating off the food, as these add calories to your plate and add to the bloated feeling.

ø Fourth, load up your plate with vegetables first (ideally, half the plate), which leaves less room for high calorie, high fat foods.

ø Fifth, when there are desserts that are hard to pass up, decline the second helping so you can save room for desserts.

ø Sixth, if the event is a buffet, look over everything first and then only eat food you would not normally have at home. Skip the ordinary bread, potato, and rice dishes to have the sweet potatoes that you love and rarely enjoy.

ø Seventh, drink something with your meal (preferably water) to fill up your stomach and make it less likely that you will overeat.

ø Eighth, it is known that it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full, so chew your food slowly to help you avoid overeating.

ø Ninth, talk to others while you are eating to make the time more enjoyable and to make it less likely you will overeat.

ø And tenth, our final tip – enjoy the holidays with loved ones. Sometimes we eat to fill a void in our hearts and souls when it would be better to visit with neighbors or call a loved one who might not be able to make it for the holidays.

Just follow these ten easy tips and gone will be the days of feeling like a “stuffed tamale.” These little tips will help you get through the holidays, allowing you to feel better physically and have more energy too. Share these tips with family members so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a healthier holiday season this year!

 This message is brought to you by the SDPRC Familias Sanas y Activas program. For more information on our free physical activity programs in South Bay, please contact Sara Solaimani at 619-594-2965.

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