Smart Healthy Eating Strategies to Get You Through the Holidays

healthy eating

 

The holidays are quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan your healthy eating strategy for the season. Because most holidays are food-focused, they can cause a large intake of calories and throw your otherwise-healthy lifestyle off track.

Prevent the holidays from sabotaging your healthy lifestyle by putting a plan in place for handling all the extra food and drinks that will come your way during the season. Follow the tips below to celebrate guilt-free!

Plan activities that don’t center on food

Whether you’re hosting a holiday gathering or going to someone else’s house, keep some activities in your back pocket to take you away from the snack table. For example, bring a few favorite board games or set up some simple physical activities that children and adults can enjoy, like a bean bag toss or a relay race.

If you enjoy running or walking, sign your family up for a local 5K event. There are always a ton of turkey trots, jingle bell 5Ks and other holiday-themed races at this time of year. If you’ve never done one, you’ll be hooked after your first race!

Not only will these ideas get your mind off food, but they’ll give everyone something fun to do together. And isn’t that really what the holidays are about?

Avoid skipping meals

Many people make the mistake of skipping meals on the day of a holiday party to “save” their calories for the event. Skipping meals is unhealthy, however, as it leads to poor food choices and often results in overeating.

Instead, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your appetite controlled. When you get to the party, you won’t risk derailing your diet because you’re starving.

Practice mindful eating

The most important thing to practice is being mindful about your food choices and portion control. When you’re mindful about selecting your food, you’ll choose a satisfying portion instead of piling your plate high. You’ll take a small amount of an “indulgent” food to enjoy and balance it out with healthier foods, rather than filling your entire plate with unhealthy choices.

The best part of mindful eating? When you pay attention to what you eat, you’ll actually taste and appreciate your food! Eating mindlessly, on the other hand, always results in the realization that you didn’t enjoy the ton of calories you just consumed.

Make food swaps

As you make your holiday cooking plan, choose your ingredients carefully to keep your dishes on the healthier side. For example, prepare traditional stuffing with whole wheat or whole grain bread rather than white bread. Make a cauliflower mash in place of the traditional mashed potatoes. Substitute whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour in your favorite baking recipes.

Limit your cocktail consumption

The empty calories in alcoholic beverages add up. If you want to enjoy your favorite cocktail occasionally throughout the season without overdoing it, add some mineral water or seltzer to it to keep it light.

 

While food and drinks are certainly a great part of the festivities, holiday celebrations are not just about eating. Focus on the joyous, giving spirit of the season and enjoy spending time with your family, friends and colleagues.


Patient Testimonial: Nicole E. Faber

patient testimonial

December 2015                                                 May 2016

With the holidays approaching, many of us are trying to decide how we’re going to shift our diet and workout plans to accommodate that extra piece of pie. Last Thanksgiving, high school math teacher Nicole Faber decided she was done with overeating and that she needed to make a change.

Dr. Dirk performed Nicole’s gastric sleeve surgery the day before Christmas, and since then, she’s lost 137 pounds!

What was your life like before the procedure? Did you have any health issues, and were they resolved by the surgery?

I lead a very busy life. I work two full-time jobs and I used to eat when and where I could — mostly fast food. I would try working out and eating healthy, but nothing seemed to stick. I had no health issues at the time of my surgery, but knew that if I continued down the path I was on, I would.

What motivated you to get surgery?

It was the week of Thanksgiving when I, like everyone else, filled my stomach past capacity. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I knew that I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

In our first meeting, Dallas bariatric surgeon, Dr. Dirk told me that being overweight wasn’t my fault — it was a disease. He explained everything in detail and answered all of my questions leading up to surgery. His staff is so nice — they treat you like a human being rather than a number.

On Christmas Eve, the day after my surgery, Dr. Dirk personally called to check on me. He also called again a week later. He truly is there day or night to answer any questions that you may have.

July 2016
July 2016

How has your life changed since surgery?

I no longer have to take pain medication for aches, pains or joints. Honestly, I haven’t had a headache since the surgery. I also have so much more energy and want to constantly be on the go. The best part is that now, I believe in myself.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

The surgery is not a quick fix. It truly is a lifestyle change. If you never change your diet, you will end up in the same place you started. I have not turned into a total health nut, but I do try to eat healthy. I still drink a protein shake a day. I try to only eat beef one to two days a week. I do have days where I eat a hamburger, but always order it without the bun.

For exercise, I joined a women-only gym that keeps a personal trainer on hand for every workout class. It’s place where I can relieve stress and be around like-minded women. I’ve been working on building muscle to fill in and tone the loose skin after weight loss.

Do you have different outlook on life now? Was there a specific moment after the surgery where you knew your life was going to be different?

My outer appearance has changed drastically, and on the inside, I am much happier with my life now. I am able to give more of myself because I am not as tired, my feet don’t hurt and my muscles don’t ache. That means I am able to spend more time on things I like to do, like hiking, hunting, fishing and working in the garden.

August 2016
August 2016

What has been the response from friends and family?

My friends and family have been very supportive throughout the whole journey. My friends love it because I am a cheap date — I either eat off the kid’s menu or eat off their plate. I had my surgery right before Christmas and was only able to consume liquids. My family even offered to not eat in front of me.

What would you tell someone considering weight loss surgery? Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?

I’d say, “Why are you waiting?” It is a lifestyle change, but it is the best decision I have ever made in my life. I highly recommend Dr. Dirk not only for his professionalism, but for his lovely staff, from the office to the hospital.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight and are living a healthier, happier life?

My favorite thing to do after surgery is simply live life. I live life to the fullest every day and feel great about it. I can’t believe I robbed myself of living my life for so long by being overweight.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.


3 Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may be starting to pull out your family’s tried-and-true holiday recipes. Your great grandmother’s butter-basted turkey and candied yams are no doubt delicious, but they may set you back in terms of your health and weight loss goals at a critical time in the year—the start of the holiday season.

With a few substitutions, however, the holiday season doesn’t need such a bad rep. Want to watch your weight and enjoy your Thanksgiving feast? We’ve rounded up a few healthy alternatives to the holiday’s worst offenders. Try these recipes on for size:

Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegan Gravy

Whether you’re serving guests who don’t eat meat or you’re simply looking for a low-fat alternative to this traditionally high-fat sauce, vegan gravy is an easy, savory alternative. There are plenty of recipes out there, ranging from an ultra-simple accompaniment flavored with miso paste and onion powder to versions made primarily with roasted veggies and spiced to perfection. Put those fatty meat juices aside this year without sacrificing flavor.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have excellent nutritional value and are packed with essential vitamins for a healthy, balanced diet. When they’re smothered in marshmallow? Not so much. Take advantage of this naturally sweet veggie with a recipe that won’t mask its natural flavor or raise your chances for diabetes. Try roasting your sweet potatoes and flavoring them with honey and cinnamon, or mashing them with orange rind and maple syrup for an all-natural, healthy alternative to processed sugars.

Stuffing

Instead of using pre-packaged stuffing or loading up on empty carbs from white bread, pull out a traditional recipe and use a healthy alternative like gluten-free or whole-wheat bread. You can also opt for a low-fat butter substitute to cut both fat content and carbs. With savory seasonings from spices and veggies, you’ll still enjoy all of your favorite flavors.

Start the holiday season off right with a few healthy substitutes for a new take on your favorite dishes, and you’ll have a head start on that New Year’s resolution.