Balancing Your Choices

At this time of the year, it seems everyone is offering advice about how to eat during the holidays. There are a lot of “don’ts” and “stay away from”s, and we all know how difficult it can be to refrain from indulgences, especially when those around you are not or are raving about how good Aunt Sally’s chocolate truffle rum balls are.

In my opinion, it comes down to choices and to balance. Allow yourself to taste and enjoy the dishes – and desserts – you want to, but keep things in moderation. Plan ahead of time for what you are or are not going to do and listen to when your body is telling you to stop. Remember, food is fuel and, just like your car’s gas tank, fill’er up but avoid the overflow. Here are some ideas that might help you out:

Choose your plate. Choose a smaller plate, if you can, and serve yourself small scoops of each dish presented – without, of course, piling your plate so high you look like you are performing a circus balancing act. If you only have one size to choose from, follow this same rule of small scoops and know that it’s okay for some of the bottom of the plate to peek out. Most importantly, eat off of a plate – standing at the table picking and grazing doesn’t allow you take control of your portions.

Check out choices first. This rule works for any buffet situation. Take a walk around the food table and see what’s available so you don’t have an overflowing plate before you get to the end where your favorite might be. Knowing what’s available will also help you make smarter choices, especially when it comes to dessert.

Eat dessert. No one needs an entire plate of dessert. Choose one dessert and have a small piece. If there is more than one that you want to try, have one or two normal-sized bites of each. Try to eat them in slow motion: chew slowly and savor every bite. This will also give your brain time to recognize that your stomach is full.

Limit alcohol and other sugary drinks. Choose beverages that aren’t mixed with fruit juices or regular sodas and limit alcoholic beverages to two.

Fit in some exercise. Try to get thirty minutes of exercise each day, even on those busy holidays.

Be gentle with yourself. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s so important and for me, it’s like hitting a reset button. We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else is. Don’t beat yourself up if you have overindulged, just hit your restart button and go back to making healthy food and portion choices. It’s important to remember that skipping meals slows your metabolism and is not the way to “make up for” all those calories consumed.

The holidays are supposed to be about sharing time with loved ones and welcoming a new year and a new start. Don’t let your food choices at holiday gatherings create anxiety for you. Indulge in your loved ones and the memories.

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