The Big Apple is blossoming and for many New Yorkers, so have their waistlines over winter. Spring brings the promise of new beginnings—and the perfect time to dust off your New Year’s commitment to healthier eating. Just don’t let the spring festivities stall you.
“A typical holiday meal can be well over 2,500 calories – and that doesn’t include the pre-snacking, appetizers or drinks,” says Stacy Abbatiello, Registered Dietitian, Department of Food & Nutritional Services at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals. While she is all for celebrating, Abbatiello notes that overindulging in holiday meals year after year will catch up with you if you’re not careful.
One way to guard against overeating during the spring holidays is to balance the meal with time outdoors. So consider starting a new tradition—a post-meal walk. You could also try substituting lower-fat food options that will allow you to still stick to tradition, just a little lighter.
Here are five ways to celebrate spring with a clean plate, right now:
1. Practice mindful eating. Being mindful of your eating habits help you realize when you are full and allows you to listen to what your body needs to feel satisfied. “It is better to eat slower, taking a smaller amount, and going back for seconds if you still feel you want more,” Abbatiello says. But “mindful eating” doesn’t happen on its own – you have to plan ahead. Start at the grocery store by really thinking about your purchases – it may save you money and calories in the long run.
2. Be a finicky foodie. When you really start looking at your food choices, you’re much more apt to be selective with meals – and future food purchases. Have healthy options on hand, but try not to overbuy items with a shorter shelf life. And remember to avoid impulse purchases that might sabotage your diet. “Instead of loading up on snacks and chips, buy one of these things and then choose healthier snacks, like hummus and pitas or whole grain tortillas with low-sodium salsa or peanut butter and apples,” Abbatiello says.
3. Stock your fridge with whole foods rather than sugary, high-sodium, high-fat processed foods. If your fridge is stacked with boxed or pre-packaged meals, replace these items with fresh produce and meats found at the street and farmer’s markets. If you’re able, do some grilling and enjoy the outdoors while you cook.
4. Have “forgiveness food” on hand. We all have our days – if you overeat at a holiday gathering, get back on track with a helping of healthy food. When you have a fridge full of fresh fruit, vegetables and protein, it’s much easier to correct a day of overindulging. Forgive yourself with a lean cut of turkey and some grilled veggies.
5. Eat better as a family. Healthier eating benefits the entire family. “When kids see their parents overindulge, they often pattern the same behaviors,” says Abbatiello. “Another benefit of committing to healthier eating is giving your children the gift of a lifetime of good eating habits – and it’s never too late to start.”
Learn more or make an appointment with a dietician by visiting chpnyc.org or calling 1-855-411-LWNY (5969).