Whether it’s chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or eggnog calling out your name, the holiday season never fails to provide an unrelenting amount of nutritional challenges for even the most devout health enthusiast. If you’d like to survive the next two weeks without going up two sizes, a little planning and goal-setting are in order.
As a dietitian, I like Dr. Edwin Locke’s research from the 1960’s on setting goals, which remains relevant today. His concept of SMART goals remains an incredible blueprint for setting and obtaining health and nutrition specific outcomes. In fact, there is no better time than today to begin identifying what gift you really want to give yourself this holiday season. SMART goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Goal-setting is always at the top of the list when I counsel my clients. Without a clear vision of why you are working hard and making lifestyle changes, it is extremely easy to let your guard down and lose motivation when temptation arises.
Following are a few simple tips, which will make it easy to reduce cravings, keep caloric intake in check and maintain or achieve a healthy weight goal:
· Focus on high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, small amounts of heart-healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. More specifically, fiber intake should be between 25-35 grams per day for most adults, lean protein should be part of every meal and snack, and small amounts of healthy oils, nuts and avocados should be added a couple of times each day.
Each meal and snack should contain a combination of fiber-full carbohydrates and lean protein, for example, chicken breast and brown rice, or apple and peanut butter. When you are on-the-go, it is important to prepare for snacks as well. Choosing something like a KIND bar which has both fruit and nuts will provide a portion-controlled mix of fiber, protein and healthy fat that will keep you satisfied for several hours.
· Be smart about what you drink. Choose low- or no-calorie beverages most of the time, so it’s easier to maintain a moderate caloric intake. If plain water simply doesn’t do it for you, consider adding some flavor by choosing a vitaminwater zero. If you like a Coke, go for the portion-controlled mini can, which only has 90 calories. A Club Soda with lemon or lime is another great choice. These options not only help you keep your calories in check but make staying hydrated a bit more fun!
· Remember, it’s about your health. During this time of gratitude, celebration and love it is important to remember that it is ok to prioritize your own health each and every day. When you treat yourself well, you become a better spouse, child, sibling, employee and friend. Consider setting SMART health goals today that will help guide you through the next two weeks and the years to come.
Happy and Healthy New Year!
Julie Feldman MPH RD