Holiday Shopping Tips: 6 Ways to Avoid an Eating Disaster

December 3, 2012

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holiday weightShop ‘til you drop. It’s the theme of the holiday season, and with shopping comes food courts filled with burgers, fries, and ice cream. It’s easy to fall into the fast-food trap, but it’s also easy to avoid. Here are a few tips I share with my patients:

Eat Before You Go: You are much less likely to eat impulsively if you head out the door with a satisfied stomach. Be sure to have a filling but healthy meal before you embark on your holiday shopping adventures.

Bring a Snack: Before you hit the mall, stash a few healthy snacks in your purse or bag. Pack cut up fresh veggies, a piece of fruit, low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers, or a handful of nuts. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water too. When you take a break from shopping, break out the snacks, refuel, and rehydrate.

Plan ahead: Reduce the risk of making poor food choices by planning ahead to head off potential pitfalls. Schedule your trip between meal times so you don’t have to make a food court pit stop. If you do want to dine out while shopping, take some time to sleuth out a few healthy options. This way, you already have a few good picks in mind.

Ask for a To-Go Box: Many restaurants serve portions that are two or even three times the amount of a single serving. Ask for a to-go box when you order, and pack up half or more of your entrée before you even start eating. If it’s not in front of you, you’ll be less likely to overeat. Plus, your leftovers will make a perfect, portion-controlled lunch the next day.

Do a Few Laps: You may not get your heart pumping like you would in the gym, but you can challenge yourself to burn calories while you shop. Take a speed walk around the complex, park in the farthest spot you can find, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or carry your purchases out to the car after you visit each store. All those extra steps can add up to hundreds of burned calories!

Be Aware of Your Emotions: Holiday shopping can be fraught with emotional landmines, including worries about money and the added stress of a growing to-do list. If you find yourself faced with an unhealthy craving, stop and ask yourself what it is you are really hungry for. Chances are you’ll discover the craving isn’t about food at all, and that what you really crave is a break from the hectic, busy, high-pressure pace of the holiday season. Heading home to a nice bubble bath is one possibility, and it’s absolutely calorie free!

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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