It’s every dieter’s nightmare: You spend months counting calories and watching your portion sizes only to be tempted by the delicious, high-fat comfort food synonymous with holiday eating. You could easily throw in the towel and pig out like everyone else. Or you can exhibit a little self-control and avoid the guilt and excess weight that comes with overeating.
Here’s how you can maintain your weight and keep your heart healthy during the holidays:
Don’t Try to Lose Weight During the Holidays
You should aim to maintain your weight – not lose weight – during the holidays. By pressuring yourself to lose weight, you’re adding unnecessary stress to your body – and this can be a diet-killer. Stress clouds your judgment and can lead to bad decision making. People tend to eat aimlessly and thoughtlessly when they’re stressed.
Don’t Deprive Yourself; Enjoy in Moderation
Our eating habits during the holidays shouldn’t be our biggest concern. It’s our eating habits during the rest of the year that dictate our long-term health. If you make healthy eating choices 364 days out of the year, then feel free to splurge on New Year's – within reason. Also, if you need help controlling portion sizes, I would recommend considering SENSA®, a weight-loss program that helps curb appetite and teaches proper portion control.
Watch Out for Pointless Extra Calories
Grab a dinner roll! Just don’t slather it with butter. Scoop up some mashed potatoes – just avoid the gravy bowl. Most holiday foods are perfectly harmless as long as you break the high-fat habits that leave you consuming hundreds of empty calories.
The real challenge comes with finding a healthy dessert. Most holiday desserts, like cheesecake and pecan pie, are loaded with sugar and fat. Portion sizes are crucial here! A healthier alternative to pies and sweets is angel food cake, which is made from egg whites so it’s virtually fat-free. Or better yet, eat some fruit. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and give you the antioxidants you need to metabolize your holiday meal.
A healthy diet is a well-rounded diet, so don’t make yourself miserable during the holidays by watching everyone else eat. Empower yourself by taking control of your portion sizes. You’ll eat less and feel good knowing you have that kind of self-control.
Hilton M. Hudson, II, M.D., F.A.C.S. is the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Franciscan Physicians Hospital in Indiana and the C.E.O. and Chairman of Hilton Publishing, the U.S. premier publisher of Health and Wellness books. He is the Director of the SENSA® Medical Advisory Board. Hudson’s book, The Heart of the Matter: The African-Americans’ Guide to Heart Disease, Heart Treatment and Heart Wellness has been endorsed by doctors nationwide to help educate at-risk patients.