Overcoming the Season of Temptation

Here we are again, right in the middle of it, and the closer we are to Christmas the worse it gets!

Starting with those little candies at Halloween and continuing through the wings and nachos of Super Bowl Sunday, it’s the three toughest months of the year to stay healthy; what can be called the “season of temptation.” And even though some people do not celebrate Halloween or even like football, the foods of the season come as an onslaught; especially with all the December parties right on the heels of the Thanksgiving feasting. This is the time when even the most disciplined people figuratively loosen their belts and therefore wind up literally loosening their belts too!

But, don’t give up hope. You can still stay healthy throughout the season (and year-round!) and enjoy yourself at the same time.

Here are some handy “survival tips” to avoid overindulgence at holiday events:

1. Don’t plan to indulge
Know who you would like to hang out with, what you would like to talk about, and even what you want to wear, but not what you want to eat.

2. Don’t skip meals
In anticipation of stuffing yourself at holiday gatherings, eat something healthy before you leave the house; even enjoy a full healthy meal beforehand. Having something in your stomach will make it much easier to make smart choices and to just say no when you should.

3. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day so you don’t reach for food when you are actually just thirsty. Water keeps the body hydrated and helps you stay full so you will not be inclined to overeat.

4. Scan the room first
When you arrive at a party, scan the room for all available food and snack options before you start picking. Select a couple of favorites and allow those delicacies to be your indulgent items. Then opt for lean meats, veggies (go light on the dip), fresh fruits, or a small amount of nuts to fill you up nutritiously. This will help you limit your desire for more fattening and unhealthy choices.

5. Don’t stand by the food table
When you are at a party, it is possible to lose track of how much you are consuming. Mingle instead and you won’t pick at food mindlessly. Remember that even a few of those tiny appetizers found at cocktail parties can have more fat and calories than are contained in an entire healthy entrèe.

6. Use a small dish
Don’t overfill your plate. Eat slowly and pace yourself, as it takes 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach. If you wait a little while before you eat something you desire, you may be surprised to discover you no longer want it.

7. Allow yourself a few treats
When you treat yourself, you don’t feel deprived. But, the key to doing this is to not return for a second trip to the buffet table. (Okay, let’s be realistic…don’t return for a third trip!) Eat until you’re full—then stop!

Don’t stuff yourself to make someone else (like Grandma) happy.

8. Watch the liquid calories
Choose beverages made with limited sugar (but not artificial sweeteners) and steer clear of things like beer or champagne. If you drink alcohol, allow yourself a glass or two of wine and then stop. Hard liquor is especially high in calories, and may impair you from making wise choices of every kind.

9. Attention hosts
If you’re hosting a party, you have a good level of control over what everyone eats. So go easy on the added sugars and fats, and even consider healthy substitutes in your dishes like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta and breads.

10. Bring your own food
If you are attending a party that is not catered, bring something healthy to allow yourself (and the other guests) at least one tasty, nutritious option to enjoy.

11. Chew gum
When preparing foods for a party or event, chew gum. With gum in your mouth you’ll be less likely to nibble.

12. Don’t give up
Don’t just give up and skip your exercise program during the holidays. Instead, stay on your regimen, and even offset those extra calories by adding a few minutes to your regular routine.

Bottom line: Take the focus off food, and put it on the people and the overall social experience.

If you don’t take this advice and do overindulge, here are some “rescue tips”:

1. Drink plenty of water
Before bed, when you get up, and throughout the day, as it will help you detox more quickly.

2. Be aware of “morning after” cravings
The morning after a large, late meal, you will wake “feeling” hungry. If you have had sugar, you will want more. Resist that devil and it will flee!

3. Go for a walk or exercise
Fresh air is best, but if you can’t go outside, just do something to get your blood pumping. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, until you start and feel your head and body clearing, so force yourself to get moving.

4. Get some extra rest
There is no better way to recover from your “transgressions” than sleep.

And here’s a final tip for “dressing for (wellness) success” at holiday events:

Wear clothing that is comfortable but somewhat tight-fitting in the waist. Of course, be modest, but choose an outfit that will help you feel “stuffed” more quickly. Loose clothing, including the just-plain-evil “stretchy pants”, is an absolute no-no. And never, ever open the top button on your pants before or during a meal. Think about it; if you are purposely making way for your body to hold more food, then you have already overeaten.

Hey, it’s the holidays so let’s be real: we are going to indulge in some extras. But why not do so with some wise planning and self-restraint, so you can save yourself the frustration of post-holiday blues, unwanted pounds, and unhealthy habits that may plague you well into the new year? It’s the season of temptation, so be careful out there!

Dr. Jeff Hazim is a Chiropractor and nutritional counselor practicing in Pompano Beach (TheBrowardCenter.com), and Executive Director of “Biblical Health Television”, the only TV network devoted to Biblical Health (BiblicalHealth.tv). Weekly Radio Broadcasts: BlogTalkRadio.com/BiblicalHealth.

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