Psychotherapist, Author, Speaker

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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Posts tagged healthy holidays
8 Ways to Stay on Track This Holiday Season
 

It’s holiday time, and with the family gatherings, the mistletoe and hot toddies come temptations to eat and drink to excess. We all look forward to the festivities, but if you’re not careful, those joyous holiday gatherings can be diet disasters waiting to happen. Here’s a plan of action that makes it easy to enjoy the get-togethers and goodies without piling on the pounds.   

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1. Make Time to Move  
 

  • Schedule in a workout – for everybody. Suggest a new family holiday tradition: taking a walk together after your holiday meal to burn some calories and “make room” for dessert. Or crank up the iPod and get everybody dancing down the “Soul Train” line. Combining family time with exercise will give you a chance to bond and give you a break from the holiday fuss. Build snowmen, shoot some hoops, go ice skating, even rake up some leaves.
  • Dust off your home gym. You may be too busy to get to the gym, but you can work that stationery bike or treadmill while watching the morning news.
  • If you’re traveling, take your workout with you. Pack light stretch bands and a favorite exercise DVD and put them to use!                 


2. Don’t Skip Healthy Snacks and Meals Before Parties

Starving yourself before you go out won’t help you mind your portions. If you step up to a buffet and you’re famished, chances are you’re going to eat too much. Make sure to eat a light but satisfying midday lunch, and before you head for the party, take the edge off your hunger with a snack like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.


3. Only Eat What You Really Like

Be a food snob! You don’t have to sample everything on the buffet. If you don't love something, don’t even bother tasting it. Check out the spread for foods and flavors you adore and skip what you can have anytime. Indulge in your holiday favorites, then find a seat, take your time, and savor every mouthful. 


4. Choose Wine Over Mixed Drinks

Wine has substantially fewer calories compared with other alcoholic beverages. Wine weighs in at about 125 calories, as opposed to vodka and tonic (165 calories) or eggnog (320 calories).


5. Alternate Alcohol With Water

Since alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories, try alternating each drink with water or seltzer. You’ll save calories - and stay grounded!


6. Get Enough Sleep

With all the shopping, the cooking and taking care of guests, sleep gets shoved to the back burner. A lack of shut-eye can do more than compromise your skin and appearance. It has been linked with a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, and other metabolic disorders. Sleep-deprived folks also exhibit higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.


7. Socialize Instead of Eating

Don’t stand around the food table when you’re at a party. Focus your energy on spending time with family and friends instead of raiding the buffet and bar!


8. Bring your own dish

I have a friend who is allergic to wheat and dairy. If she eats just a bit of cheese or bread she ends up in digestive despair. Whenever we go to a dinner party, she brings her own dish. She even brings a plastic sandwich bag to restaurants with rice crackers or rice bread. If you bring your own food, you’ll have just what you need to indulge worry-free.

 
Party-time Guidelines
 

Whether you’re hosting or dining, follow these party-time guidelines to enjoy the festivities while avoiding extra pounds: 

  • For pre-dinner snacks, serve fresh fruit and veggies instead of chips and dips Use 1/3 less fat (mayo, oils, dressing, etc.) and 1/3 less salt than usual in savory dishes.
  • In sweet dishes, apple sauce, sour cream or yogurt are often good substitutes for oil, butter or shortening. As much as your budget allows, buy the leanest cuts of meats, raised without antibiotics or hormones.
  • Serve some meat grilled but not sauced
  • Fill ½ your plate with salad or healthy greens
  • On the other half, add a taste of everything else (a child’s fist-size of potato salad; meat the size of a deck of cards)
  • Swap water for sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and ice tea
  • Drink alcohol sparingly (a serving or two)
 
5 Steps for a Food Hangover
 
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Ok, so after a couple days of feasting on fabulous Memorial Day fixings of potato salad, baked beans, barbecued chicken and turkey hot dogs (yes, hot dogs) and apple pie, I faced the down side to veering from a clean diet.


For three days I felt as if I was hung over – not from too much drink but from too much food. Instead of an achy, foggy head and upset stomach, I feel stuffed, sluggish and stopped up.

That might be too much information, but when you’re eating clean – as in lots of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains and simply prepared fish, chicken and lean meats – food passes through you easily and regularly. 

 
 

Regularly as in at least once and sometimes more a day. But when I went off the grid and ate too much typical-though-lightened-up holiday favorites, adding extra fat, sugars, and processed foods to my system, I felt the effects almost immediately.

It started with sleepiness just after dinner on Sunday, the day I cooked. And I didn’t just cook, I burned. Put my foot up in it, as some folks say. The kids were ecstatic that we had “real” food for a change, instead of my usual (though not predictable) grilled chicken/fish/shrimp and salads. And I enjoyed longtime favorites right along with them, eating small portions, but taking second helpings. Then sleepiness set in. Along with a bulging belly, that was a sure sign that I’d eaten too much.

I felt full when I went to bed and I still felt full the next day when I woke up. But I had another helping of for lunch anyway, and then for dinner, then topped it off with another slice of pie that night. Not once all day did I “feel” my body telling me it was hungry. By Day 3, I recognized that I was veering back to old habits, so I stopped and switched gears. 

It took about three days to get my system back on track. Here’s what I did, and what you can do to cure a holiday food hangover:

* Drink more water – more than your daily 6-8 glasses – to help get things moving again

* Eat cleanly and simply again as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Fruit and protein for breakfast, a light salad for lunch and lean meats and simple veggies for dinner. No prepared, processed, wheat or dairy.

* Boost exercise – I went from a 2-mile walk every other day to a 2½ mile walk/run three days in a row, then off one day. Moving your body helps aid digestion.

* Leave 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first of the next (snacks included!) – to give your body a chance to process what’s already there. You should feel hungry when you wake – The sensation of hunger tells you that your body is processing properly and is ready for more. 

* Be patient. It typically takes 48-72 hours for food to make its way through your system. So while you may be back on track with clean eating, your body is still on overdrive, processing all the excess calories, carbs and sugars from your splurge. It may be five days before you sense your body responding to changes you made three days ago. Think of this adjustment as turning around a big oceanliner: You can't just spin on a dime. But follow these strategies and your body will respond and "catch up" with your clean routine. A sure sign that it's catching up: You're "regular" again.

Have a Healthy Day.
Robin