Next week is finals. This is my first semester taking a full load of classes since 2008, and…well…
Blerg. That’s pretty much all my brain is capable of of at this point.
In the meantime, I’m still trying to keep up with nutrition news, which means one thing:
Holiday Eating Tips.
Apparently, this is all dietitians want to talk about at this time of year. There are a few articles out there with good-but-healthy recipe ideas, but the majority are about How To Keep Off Weight Gain During This Oh-So-Disastrous Season.
I hate this kind of article. It’s not that I disagree with the topic (personally, I love some tips about how to keep weight off, and I love good-but-healthy recipes even more). Rather, they all seem to say the exact same thing! They go a little something like this:
Eat smaller portions/use a smaller plate
Avoid the dessert table
Take a walk after you eat
Fill up your plate with lean protein and veggies
Don’t eat too much sugar or fat
While this is all good advice, I feel like it’s also kind of “no duh” advice. Really? I should be careful about how much sugar and fat I eat? It’s also usually incredibly unrealistic (i.e. “always sub sweet potatoes – without marshmallows, of course – for mashed potatoes”). I’m sorry – it’s the holidays. I’m going to eat sweet potatoes with marshmallows AND mashed potatoes with gravy. It’s happening.
Can’t anyone come up with some tips that are actually helpful?
It turns out at least one person can! Kitty Finklea, a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach, wrote one of the best holiday eating articles I’ve ever read. I found it through AND’s daily article email, and liked it so much that I bookmarked it. You can find the whole article here, and should definitely click over and read it.
Here are some of my favorite tips from her article:
- Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays. Just maintaining your weight is a victory.
- Make sure to eat three square meals every day “so that YOU [are in control] — not your hunger” (1).
- “Use the three-bite rule. Usually taste is heightened during the first three bites and then dulls out. If it’s not amazing after three bites, leave it alone. It’s not worth the extra calories” (1).
I really liked the way she compares maintaining your weight from Thanksgiving to Christmas to a victory. It is a battle, for sure, and we should feel good about ourselves when we win it! But trying to maintain a weight-loss regimen during thisseason is like asking for a defeat, which we’ll then beat ourselves up about for months. Not worth it. I thought this was an incredible realistic way of looking at the situation.
It’s also really smart to eat three well-balanced meals every day. I know for sure that I’m guilty of doing the whole “not eating in the morning so I can splurge at the party tonight” thing – while this seems smart in theory, it’s actually pretty dumb. By the time I even get to the party, I’m so hungry that I eat way too much of everything. It’s like going grocery shopping while you’re hungry. And then, do I even really enjoy the food? Probably not – most likely I’m scarfing it down so fast that I don’t get to take pleasure in it. Not that we should chew every bite 100 times or anything – but isn’t the whole point of eating food we love to love the taste?
Finally, the “three-bite rule” is genius. Put anything on your plate that you want to – just only take three bites worth. If you absolutely love it, you can get more. Genius! I’ve heard variations on this before, but they trend negative: use a small plate so you don’t go crazy, only take small portions to keep your “bad” foods in check, etc.
I absolutely loved how positive Finklea is towards food and towards dieters in this article; she’s realistic about the way we eat during the holidays and seems like she loves good food too.
Sadly, this is all too rare in the dieting articles.
So, as I’m stressing out studying and grading papers, I’ve been thinking a lot about Finklea’s advice and making adjustments. The biggest help to me so far is the first one I mentioned: eating three square meals a day. When I’m stressed, especially, I tend to put off eating for a long time and then eat cereal or take out for every meal because it’s quick and easy and I’m too exhausted to put much thought into actually making something. This then turns into a vicious cycle – my autoimmune issues are exacerbated by stress, which makes me not feel good and get even more behind, which makes me not eat well, which makes me feel even sicker.
This time around, I’ve been really careful to eat at scheduled times, and to eat healthfully. I went grocery shopping again this week and stocked up on all kinds of goodies – lots of fruit, salad fixings (almonds and cranberries – YUM), Greek yogurt (Yo-plait is gluten free and the lime flavor is amazing), gluten-free multi-grain crackers, Laughing Cow garlic cheese wedges…and so far, my energy level has stayed relatively high and I haven’t had any bad flare-ups.
1. Finklea, K., RD. (2014, November 11). COLUMN: Healthy Holiday Strateies. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from