Guest Post: Lessons in Healthy Eating – Part Two

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In case you didn’t see last week’s guest post by Marlene Lesson, we are running a four-part series on her lessons in healthy eating.  Ms. Lesson is nutrition director of Structure House, a residential weight loss facility in Durham, N.C. that offers a unique behavioral approach to weight loss and healthy lifestyle change, and here is part two in our series on healthy eating, something that is increasingly difficult to do as the holidays approach.

Enjoy healthy seasonal foods.  Many traditional holiday foods are naturally low fat and healthy such as turkey, acorn squash, and cranberries.  Take advantage of fresh, seasonal produce like winter squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, rutabaga, parsnips, apples, tangerines, tangelos, and pumpkin.

Pre-plan your eating as much as possible. You are more likely to choose foods on the basis of nourishment when you have a plan.  It’s easier to forgo the fruitcake when you have already decided on the fruit cup.

Focus on the social aspect of the holidays. You don’t need to partake in high-calorie fare to enjoy yourself.  Focus on the conversation rather than the food at get-togethers.  Weaken the psychological connection between food and a good time.

Maintain a food diary. If you don’t already have one, the holidays are a great time to start a food journal.  Make sure to write it all down the good and the bad!  It’s easier to control your weight over the holidays if you consistently record all food choices.

Eat simply. The more complicated the dish, the more likely it is to have hidden high-calorie ingredients.

Control your portions. Remember that a half-cup serving of pasta or rice is the size of a computer mouse.  A three-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish is the size of a cassette tape or a deck of cards.

Make time for exercise. The holidays can be a challenge for working in regular exercise.  If you can’t commit to a long walk, take several short ones.  Mix it up with yoga or pilates, or go dancing for a fun alternative.  Having a personal trainer come to your home can also make exercise more convenient.

Avoid trigger situations and emphasize activity. Don’t stand near the buffet table, ask to see the dessert cart or spend unnecessary time in the company of eating buddies.  Rather than centering plans around meals, suggest ice-skating, cross-country skiing or taking a family hike.

Forgo alcohol. It’s not just eggnog that helps put on the pounds.  Alcohol in general is a major source of hidden calories.  In addition, it stimulates the appetite and decreases inhibitions making it more difficult to control eating.  Sparkling water with a twist can make for a festive alternative.

Be reasonable. Attempting to lose weight over the holidays can be frustrating and unrealistic.  Focus on maintaining your weight.  Making it through the holidays without gaining weight is a major accomplishment.

Start new traditions. Challenge old thoughts and beliefs.  Everything does not have to be the way it has always been.   For example, you don’t have to entertain with great quantities of fattening food.  Try hosting a potluck where everyone brings at least one healthy holiday option.

Remember to visit this blog next week for part three of our four-part series!

To review part one, click here.


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