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WELL FED: Diet During the Holiday? You Bet.

With some well-reasoned restraint, we can make it through the next 42 days without discomfort or regret.

Some of you may have seen this picture in your own homes following a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. At our house, the men would leave the table after several helpings from the buffet, lie on the floor and fall into a deep sleep. This wasn’t just a result of the tryptophan in the turkey. It was the body’s aggravated reaction to force feeding. Stepping over these snoring lumps was like navigating a minefield. I’ve got a healthy appetite, especially for holiday food, but this was a state I never wanted to attain. Nor, do I think, did they. But the tendency to overdo is the siren call of the season. Luckily, there are ways to plug your ears.

Don’t ignore your diet on the regular days…

This is hard, because platters of goodies will show up with greater frequency over the next six weeks. That doesn’t mean you have to continue to sample. If you already have a well-balanced eating style, stick with it on the days that don’t include a party or other festive celebration. In other words, save yourself for the right moment and then indulge reasonably. More of a good food thing does not make it better than just enough. Wouldn’t you rather remember the fabulous thing you ate that feel dreadful from having had too much of it?

Don’t starve yourself…

This is the mistake too many people make (especially women – hello!). We think if we skip breakfast and lunch — which no one ever really does wholeheartedly — we can whoop it up at that office party. Does that really make sense? I shouldn’t have to point out the plethora of studies that prove eating regular meals, especially breakfast, is key to weight management. Make sure you have sensible, healthy meals throughout the day. It will help you curb your enthusiasm to take on the dessert tray.

Did I mention hydration…?

So easy to become dehydrated from all the rich food and fancy beverages around this time of year. Make sure you are well hydrated all day, with water, non-caffeinated teas, brothy soups and high water content fruits and vegetables. You’ll feel better before you head into battle and be less likely to sabotage that feeling. You’ll also rebound better if you do overindulge.

Nighty night…

I’m a stickler for this. Irregular schedules during the holidays lead to irregular sleep patterns. And that can lead to those pesky seasonal maladies like colds, flu and digestive distress. Your body needs adequate sleep not just so you can function during the day but so your hormone levels are restored to manage stress (which there is no shortage of around the holidays). Downtime is equally important. When the first shoppers are stressing to get to Wal Mart by 8:00 PM Thanksgiving evening, you can be relaxing with a hot cup of tea and a book — guess who will be the wiser?

Okay, about that cookie tray…

I’m as guilty as my fellow bakers out there in leaving these time bombs for others to consume, but I do have my own strategy when they turn up within my reach. I find the best looking cookie on the tray, wrap it in a paper napkin and take it back to my desk with a promise to myself to enjoy it with a nice mug of Earl Grey at 3 PM. Here’s why this works: at 3 PM I really, really want a treat but there won’t be any left. If I save it, I can savor it, when I really want something. If I shove that in my mouth at 9 in the morning, I’m as unhappy with myself then as I would be later not to have it. A good cookie should be celebrated, not inhaled, so create the celebration for yourself.

The holidays are not as hard to get though nutritionally unscathed as you think. If we’re really meant to be on our best behavior so as to avoid that lump of coal in our stocking, we can’t afford to abandon all the rules of restraint and good sense. It’s easier to enjoy the holidays more when you’re not feeling regret, guilt, stress or physical discomfort over the food. So when entering the fray, decide beforehand how you want to emerge on the other side. Your determination will be what prevents that extra buffalo wing from making its way to your mouth.

Mary Porter is a nutrition educator and counselor living in the Fort Hunt area. Her company, A Better Plate, works with corporations and individuals. You can email her at mary@betterplate.com

Wynne Kelch November 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I admire your cookie plan. Thank you for an enjoyable column each week.

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