Late October to early January might rightly be called the “fat quarter” of the year. Bagfuls of candy on demand. Pumpkin spice lattes. Huge family meals with creamy sauces, fried ham, rich desserts, and a week’s worth of leftovers. How can you keep your kids (and yourself) on a reasonably healthy, low-calorie diet?
Take courage: it’s not impossible. Here are a few resolutions that don’t have to wait for New Year’s
The French have a tradition of eating light (fruit, vegetables, and lean protein) at least two meals out of three so they have plenty of margin to enjoy their famous rich dishes. You can do the same: if a big holiday dinner is planned for the evening, serve oatmeal with skim milk and fresh fruit for breakfast, a salad and grilled chicken for lunch. And throughout the celebration season, serve all light meals on days when no parties are planned.
When you do eat rich dishes (especially from a buffet of several such), make a rule of never filling a plate to the point it looks like a circus balancing act, and of giving the greatest amount of plate space to low-calorie foods. Also, when serving your kids, remember their stomachs are smaller than yours. And set an example of never rushing through a meal, but fully savoring each small bite.
This might be a special salad, seasoned grilled turkey, or an exotic fruit or vegetable. Check online recipe databases, or library cookbooks, for ideas.
Extra physical activity burns off calories from extra eating. Do your holiday shopping at the store rather than having everything delivered. Take a family walking tour to admire holiday decorations. Jump in the leaves or play in the snow. Challenge the extended family to a Thanksgiving game of touch football.
Give extra food to charity if it’s still in the package. Bring leftover casseroles and desserts to your office break room, or pass them around at a committee meeting. If you still have enough for six huge meals, put it in the freezer and eat it one normal-sized helping at a time, over the course of several weeks or months.
Sneaky health hack: At large gatherings, try not to be the host, nor the last guest to leave. Those are the people most likely to have everyone else’s leftovers pushed on them.
Finally, teach your kids that overeating at one gathering, or even for one month, doesn’t mean you’ve “blown it anyway” and might as well abandon all attempts at healthy living until it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. Any day of the year is the right day to start doing the right thing!