Frosted cookies, eggnog, candy canes, hot chocolate, cheesecake, and alcoholic beverages – oh my! Extra calories lurk around every corner this holiday season and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll pack on a couple extra pounds this season. Extra pounds that, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose. But we have a solution. What if you could avoid gaining any weight this holiday season?
We’ve got 10 great holiday tips for you so you can start the new year off on the right foot. Don’t let the scale dictate your New Year’s Resolution, avoid holiday weight gain with these great tips.
- Exercise those indulgences away. Even though your schedule may be packed with holiday shopping, errands and celebrations, stick to your regular exercise routine. Feeling extra energetic – bump it up a notch. Lack of activity during the holidays tends to be one of the major culprits of holiday weight gain. Make it fun by including your family and friends through group walks or playing Wii Fit.
- Don’t starve yourself. Don’t fall into the general misconception that by starving yourself all day you can indulge in whatever your taste buds desire later. This is a big no-no! First, you’re far more likely to lose any sense of moderation when you’ve been fasting all day. Plus, by not eating all day your body goes into “starvation” mode meaning your body will be far more likely to pack on what you eat as fat thus doing a double-negative whammy to your waistline.
- Plan ahead. Avoid those tempting, caloric-laden treats by snacking before you arrive at parties and, if necessary, take some healthy snack options with you. New York psychologist Carol Goldberg Ph.D. believes that planning ahead helps you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. “Try to go have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungrily, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate,” states Goldberg.
- Divert your attention. There’s more to the holiday parties and festivities than food. Instead of viewing parties as food events, focus on spending quality time with family and friends. Whether you’re at a small family dinner or a large party, take your mind off food by focusing on conversations.
- Limit alcohol. Limiting your alcoholic beverages isn’t just about limiting your liquid caloric intake but it also helps with general portion control. If you have a few too many, you’ll be more inclined to indulge in those desserts you’ve been eyeballing all night. Skip the white Russians and bourbon-laced eggnog and opt to carry a glass of water or club soda around all night. Additionally, make smarter choices. Instead of high-fat eggnog, grab a light beer or wine. Then stick to water, unsweetened iced tea, hot tea or coffee afterward.
- Control portions and temptations. While you can not control every situation, you can control your portions and, in some cases, you can minimize temptations. Make a mental note of tempting places and try to avoid them. If the kitchen in your office is always packed to the brim with tasty, yet fattening, holiday treats during this time of the year avoid it as much as possible. Make it a rule to keep your portion sizes small with more calorie-dense foods and be a bit more indulging with your healthier food selections such as lean proteins and veggies.
- Be choosy and limit your sweets. Don’t try to refrain from indulgences altogether. Be selective about what you eat and allow yourself one small serving each day. Once a day, allow yourself a cookie, piece of candy or slice of cake. Just remember that you may have to compensate for this later by reducing your overall caloric intake or burning off some extra calories while exercising.
Bring your own treats. Minimize your temptations by bringing a low-calorie treat that you’ll know you enjoy. Plus, bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting. Some of your best low-calorie treat options include fruit, Jell-O, shortbread cookies, angel food cake, and mini-muffins.
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Make fruits and veggies your best buds over the holidays (well every day to be perfectly honest). If you’re serious about controlling your weight, these buds not only help you avoid gaining weight but they’ll keep you healthy. The fiber in these foods will fill you up faster than traditional snack foods and you’ll take in fewer calories.
- Utilize small plates. Small plates are a great asset to anyone looking to maintain or lose weight. With less room on your plate, you’ll be less likely to pack it full of fattening foods. Fill half of your smaller plate with salad and vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and the final quarter is where you can place your starches or desserts. And if you go back for seconds, stick to the salad, veggies and lean proteins.
So there you have it – 10 great tips to keep you lean throughout this holiday season. A registered dietitian at Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation suggests trying to maintain your current weight instead of focusing on losing weight. She states that “Even though it’s hard to resist temptations all around you, there are simple steps you can take that can keep the extra holiday’s pounds off.” Utilize these steps to help you do just that!