Health and fitness guru Jillian Michaels took time away from her busy schedule to give Healthline.com readers advice on how to eat healthy this holiday season without packing on pounds.
In your opinion, what are the top three foods to avoid at a holiday party and why?
Alcohol definitely tops the list. The way alcohol is processed by the body inhibits fat metabolism; plus, it's loaded with calories and impairs your will-power, causing you to eat more than you would if you were sober.
Secondly, I’d avoid canned foods like yams and cranberry sauce. It's always better to go with fresh versions of these foods because canned foods often contain preservatives, food coloring, HFCS trans-fat and high sodium content.
Lastly, steer clear from bleached processed grains like stuffing made with white bread. These foods dramatically hinder your metabolism by sending insulin levels through the roof. Choose whole grain alternatives instead, which contain fiber and nutrients to aid your metabolic function.
You’re known for your discipline when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices, but are there any foods you can’t live without? How do you control your urges?
Chocolate!!!! I give in MODERATELY; I don't believe in deprivation. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, balance is key.
What’s your advice about how to exercise portion control at a holiday meal?
Eat slowly so that your body has a chance to register a feeling of fullness. Use smaller plates, drink lots of water, and eat lots of greens so you fill up on low calorie foods, leaving less room for high calorie dishes. Give away leftovers so you skip on second and third servings.
What did your ‘old’ typical holiday meal look like compared to what you eat these days for the holidays?
Keep in mind I was a kid so you can't hold me accountable for this: Dark meat turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, butter laden stuffing, pecan pie, green bean casserole.
My new meal is composed of turkey breast, baked sweet potatoes, lightly sautéed garlic green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, salad, and a few squares of organic dark chocolate.
Any words of wisdom regarding how to make healthy meals out of leftovers?
Honestly, my best advice is to give leftovers away to less fortunate people.
A lot of people commit to getting fit before the holidays, but think they can let loose at holiday dinners. Does this seriously damage their diet and how can they “get back on the wagon” the day after?
One day of indulgence really won't do that much damage. Commit to meeting a buddy at the gym following the holiday and make sure to give leftovers away. By controlling your environment, you dramatically decrease your chances of a continued binge or downward spiral.
Healthy lifestyle resolutions and the New Year often go hand-in-hand. In your opinion, what’s one resolution with long-term health benefits that’s often overlooked yet worth committing oneself to?
Give up soda. It's a simple act that will save you money, help you lose weight, and improve your health overall.
Many people bake goodies to give as holiday gifts. Do you have any advice on healthy food substitutes people could give instead?
An organic fruit basket is a much healthier option. Consider gifting organic dark chocolate or homemade fruit pies made with whole grain crust and very little added sugar, which are healthy and delicious options as well.
Let’s consider someone that just finished eating a huge holiday meal. Is there any form of exercise the average person could do in just 10 minutes that would actually have an impact in terms of damage control after a holiday pig-out?
A walk helps the body process blood sugar levels. However, ten minutes is really not enough. I recommend a 30 minute walk.
Can you suggest a long-term plan for strategizing healthy eating throughout the holidays?
Choose a few days to indulge--not the entire season. Approach your long-term plan by researching healthy versions of your favorite holiday foods. Remember that the holidays are about celebrating the things we are grateful for; not a license to throw your health out the window!