If you're trying to improve your cholesterol and you have a special occasion coming up, you might be anxious. Whether your weakness is cheese-laden appetizers, the buffet table, fizzy drinks or mom's apple pie — holidays and family gatherings can make it challenging to keep up a healthy lifestyle. This can affect your weight and cholesterol.
But a special occasion doesn't have to derail your hard work. Staying confident in your ability to succeed and planning for how you'll handle temptation can help you stay on track.
Develop a strategy
Special occasions often involve platters of indulgent foods. To avoid overeating:
· Eat a small, healthy snack before the big meal. The longer you go without eating, the more you tend to eat.
· Spend time visiting. You'll eat less and connect with family and friends.
· Take a plate and move away from the buffet table to avoid taking extra servings.
· Decide in advance how much you will eat, and stick with it.
Make healthy choices
Eating healthy at a gathering doesn't mean you can eat only carrot sticks. To keep your calories in check and still get a taste of your favorite dessert:
· Fill up on healthy fare first. Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients — as long as you don't smother them with heavy sauce or gravy.
· Remove the skin and fat from poultry or other meat before you eat it.
· Enjoy smaller portions of high-calorie treats. For example, you might find that a taste of pumpkin pie is all you need to satisfy your craving.
· Don't drink your calories. Alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages are heavy on calories and light on nutrients. Instead, consider unsweetened coffee or tea. Drinking a glass of ice water, which has no calories, will help you feel full.
· Offer to bring healthy fare. One option low in saturated fat is angel food cake with a side of fresh berries.
· Look for ways to be active, before, during or after the celebration. For example:
· Suggest ways that a holiday or celebration could involve physical activity. Not all special occasions have to revolve around big meals. Walk together to a parade. Have your reunion at a park and bring some simple lawn games, such as bocce ball.
· After the holiday meal play an active video game, organize a game of flag football or go for a group walk.
· Set aside time before or after the event for exercise. If you're staying with family, take a run before the festivities begin. If you're at a hotel, make time to go to the gym