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Fellowship, Family, Friends, Food, and Fun
By Christina Chapan
Annie had mixed feelings about the upcoming holiday. On the one hand, she was happy that she would have some time off from her stressful job and time to spend valuable time with her family. She had succeeded in avoiding the fattening treats readily available in the staff lounge, but she felt some stress thinking about the upcoming holiday with her relatives. This article is dedicated those—like Annie—who struggle with the typical stress of family and overeating at the holidays.
Holidays are a wonderful time to share food, fun, and fellowship with family and friends. Yet, the holidays bring the guilt of overeating. Here are a few tips to get you back on track and not feel so guilty after a holiday splurge.
1. Learn to practice portion control. Even when you are presented with a mile-long table of food, you can control how much you eat. Look at the entire buffet before choosing your meal from a buffet. Stop and enjoy your family more. Find that threshold of pleasure from eating that feels comfortable.
2. Buddy Up. Many times there is at least one relative who is also trying to eat healthy. Make a plan beforehand what you will eat and ask someone to hold you accountable to that healthy eating plan.
3. Learn to share in fellowship and food. Share a desert so that you can sample more than one. Ask your relatives about their recipes and what ingredients are in their delicious treats. Mentally evaluate the meal and determine if you can make it at home using healthier alternatives. Everyone likes to be praised on his or her hard work especially in the area of cooking.
4. Water is a lifesaver. Before you eat, drink a glass of water. Many times, you are not hungry but thirsty. Water has zero calories, contains many benefits and fills you up quickly. This time of year, we are more dehydrated than in the summertime because of indoor heaters and the lack of moisture indoors. Drinking water helps keep you hydrated and fully being able to taste the food.
5. Do not strive for a perfect eating plan during the holidays. Focus on progress, not perfection.
6. Lose the diet. Do not diet during the holidays. Instead of prohibiting food or going on the latest diet, strive for a healthy lifestyle. Aim for healthy eating. Pray and ask the Lord to help you in your quest for healthy eating and in being a witness to those friends and relatives who do not know him.
7. Cheat occasionally. Holidays are times to celebrate with festive foods that you don't normally eat during other times of the year. Your body recognizes when you eat differently and learns to survive in this way. It increases your metabolism and shows you what it feels like before you started making right choices. The longer you live a healthy lifestyle, the more intolerant you will be to poor food choices. Your appetite decreases. The calories that you consume at a few meals over the holiday do not lead to weight gain but to a constant lifestyle of eating poorly. Use the holiday to explore the area of healthy eating.
8. Do not skip meals or arrive to a party hungry. Saving up calories will only lead to disaster. If you want to truly fast, do it the biblical way. It is better to graze or eat a little bit at one time. Fitness experts and dieticians recommend eating six small meals every three to four hours spread over an entire day. Having a snack before meals is a good idea, especially if you know that your meal could be delayed. It is helpful to keep a snack like an apple and natural peanut butter, or granola bar, and string cheese in your possession for an delayed meal emergency. Hungry children and cranky spouses are better behaved if they are fed consistently and routinely during a holiday season. .
9. Join the small plate club. Use a small plate and check out the entire buffet before you eat. That will enable you to think your choices through and make healthier selections. Do not worry. If you are hungry later, the buffet will still be there. Just like the relatives that never seem to leave.
10. Offer to bring a veggie tray. Many people are open to healthy eating and by bringing a veggie tray, you are not just helping yourself, but also provide healthy alternatives for others. When I bring a tray to a party, the host and guests often gobble up the tray before the other fattening treats. Remember, a veggie tray does no good unless you provide a fat free or low fat dip. You can also offer to host the meal. If you host the event, you are more in control of the entrees served.
11. Avoid the extras. Calories and fat in gravy, cream, mounds of butter, regular sour cream, mayonnaise, and regular cheddar cheese add up fast. If you must have fat, regulate it by having a reduced amount. However, be cautious of fat free claims. Fat-free foods often contain extra salt, increased carbohydrates, and simple sugars. Some are good, but others lack taste. Try low-fat or reduced labels.
12. Remember the twenty-minute rule. It takes as long as twenty minutes for the body to signal fullness. When you have finish an item on your plate, remember to slow down and ask your Aunt Edna what she has been doing.
13. Become a reader. Not only should you control serving sizes, but you should also strive to read for important nutrients like fat, carbohydrates, and proteins.
14. Avoid alcohol. Not only does alcohol affect you spiritually and emotionally, but it is high in calories. Alcohol contains seven calories per gram verses four in carbohydrates and proteins. Alcohol can also decrease your inhibitions.
15. Start a new family tradition. Have the family take a walk, bike ride, play a friendly sport game, or go running. Schedule a fun run that day or plan activities for the kids. It takes your mind off the food and gets your focus on the precious gifts the Lord has provided to your family.
16. Focus on family not food. The holidays are a wonderful time to be thankful for family and to witness how you eat but also how you conduct yourself socially, mentally and spiritually in your total lifestyle. Pray constantly during family gatherings and ask the Lord to help you direct the conversations off negative topics and into uplifting conversations.
17. Last of all, give thanks to God because he has done wonderful things. Be thankful for family, friends, and fun. God has given us wonderful families and friends.
Focus on your child.
Focus on your family.
© 2006 TeacherWeb, Inc. Used by Permission.
Christina Chapan is an ACE certified personal trainer, ISSA Youth Fitness Trainer, SCW, Sports Nutrition, fitness author, conference speaker and elementary school teacher. She also works in the after school care program at her school. If you are interested in learning more about Christina, please visit her website:
Fit 4 Fun Kids' Fitness.
By Gary F. Zeolla
I am currently working on a new book, to be titled God-given Foods Eating Plan: For Lifelong Health, Optimization of Hormones, Improved Athletic Performance. The following two sections are excerpted from Chapter Twenty-three: "Following a God-given Foods Eating Plan." These sections are relevant to Christina's comments about "cheating" and holiday eating in general.
The next question to address is, is it okay to cheat on occasion and consume unhealthy foods? The answer here really depends on what kind of cheating you have in mind and what is best for you personally.
Some advocate setting aside a "cheat day" in which anything goes all day long. That frankly is nuts. You can consume a lot of very unhealthy food if you eat junk all day long. And putting that much unhealthy food into your body at once will basically undo any benefits you might receive from eating healthy the other six days. So in the long run, you won't notice much improvement from your new eating plan.
But it would be possible to have a "cheat meal" once or twice a week, as long as you don't make it a "pig-out" meal. In other words, a reasonable amount of unhealthy foods for one meal will not cause problems. And such a meal could be timed to coincide with a special event, such as a holiday meal. It would also be okay to have a "cheat food" once in while, such as having an unhealthy desert or snack. So if you really love ice cream, you could plan on having a dish say every Sunday, or even every Wednesday and Sunday.
However, where a problem might come in for some is consuming an occasional cheat meal or food will keep your cravings for unhealthy foods alive. In other words, you might find that if you eat that dish of ice cream on Sunday, you're craving ice cream the rest of the week. So for some, it might be better to avoid such foods altogether. If you do, you will most likely eventually lose any such cravings. As a result, staying on a GGF eating plan would be easier if you don't cheat at all.
It just depends on the person. Some might find that eating a dish of ice cream once or twice a week will satisfy their cravings so they won't crave ice cream or other junk foods otherwise. But others will find that a dish of ice cream incites their cravings for more and more. It's all a matter of what works best for you.
But consider the following quote by 44 year old
bodybuilder Kevin Creeden:
I eat the same bodybuilding foods year round. I will change the amount of food I eat, but the types of food, my selections, are the same regardless if I'm preparing for a competition or not. I've grown to really enjoy basic bodybuilding foods and there is no mental struggle trying to stick to the good foods. It's been many, many years since I've been tempted by junk foods or sweets. After a while, temptation becomes a thing of the past (John Parrillo's Performance Press. "44-years Old and in hot pursuit of an NPC pro Carb!" July 2006. Parillo, p.7).
This has been this writer's experience as well. After years of eating solely healthy foods, I simply am not tempted by junk foods. In fact, I don't even consider such foods to be "food." When I walk through a grocery store, I shake my head at all of the "non-foods" lining the shelves and cannot understand why anyone would put such junk into their bodies.
Dealing with Family, Holidays, and Restaurant Food
It goes without saying that it would make things a lot easier if everyone in a given household would start following a healthy eating plan at the same time. Otherwise, you'll find yourself having to make separate meals and having foods in the house that you are trying to avoid.
It would be especially helpful if both spouses would recognize the importance of improving their diets at the same time. And one spouse can have a powerful influence on the eating habits of the other. And even children will often follow the eating habits of their parents. So setting a good example is very important.
One thing is certain, if it's not in the home, then you won't eat it. So it is especially helpful if junk foods are kept out of the house. If you are the one who is responsible for purchasing the food, then simply only purchase healthy foods. If others in the household want to eat junk foods, then tell them they have to purchase them themselves. This will often be enough encouragement for children to try eating healthy foods.
As for holidays and other family get-togethers, let's just say this writer's family knows to not even ask if I want any desert. They all know by now that I will not want any. The first few times might be hard, but eventually your family will catch on and not expect you to partake of the various unhealthy offerings. And at most celebrations, there are enough healthy foods available that you will be able to find sufficient healthy foods to eat.
Similarly, most restaurants have healthy offerings to choose from. But there are two common problems with restaurant food.
First, most restaurant food contains excessive amounts of sodium. There is not much that can be done about this other than to pick items with the least amount of sodium. Unfortunately, restaurants generally do not provide such nutrition information at the point of sale. But many restaurants do provide such information on their Web sites.
The second problem with restaurants is the serving sizes are often way too large. So it is often a good idea to split one meal between two persons or to divide the food in half and plan on taking home the second half before you even start eating.
Don't be shy about asking for a "go box." You paid for the food, but there's no reason to stuff yourself to get your money's worth. If you take it home, you can enjoy it for lunch the next day, guilt free. It would also help to know how many calories are in a serving. So you might want to check the restaurant's Web site before dining out to see if they provide nutrition information for their foods.
The above guest article first appeared in the free
FitTips for One and All email newsletter.
It was posted on this site November 29, 2006.
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