It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – a celebratory time of year that thankfully revolves around family, friends, and traditions. Socializing and spending time with the people we enjoy is wonderful for our health. Unfortunately, the numerous cocktail parties, company festivities, and family get-togethers often lead to overindulgence and weight gain. Typically, people put on 1-3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a seemingly harmless amount of additional weight, but for the fact that most of us never lose it. Continuing down this path will lead to an extra 10-30 pounds over just one decade. Fortunately, by making small adjustments and smart choices, you can avoid this unhealthy trend.
Avoid Weight Gain!
Here are eight simple steps to follow to ensure you wake up on January 1st wearing the same size clothes and a big smile.
1. Knowing you’re going to splurge a little over the holidays, cut calories elsewhere.
You can eliminate 100-400 calories a day by making simple substitutions:
- exchange your afternoon latte for a cup of tea or plain coffee
- forgo the slice of cheese in your omelet or sandwich for extra veggies
- snack on veggies and hummus so you can bypass your colleague’s candy jar or holiday cookie platter
- cook with cooking spray instead of oil
- choose English muffins over bagels
- use fresh lemon and vinegar for your salad dressing
- avoid holiday specialty drinks altogether. They’re loaded with calories (Starbuck’s Grande eggnog latte contains 460 calories).
2. Don’t skip your exercise.
Schedule 30 minutes of vigorous exercise into your calendar five days a week. If necessary, shorten your workouts but intensify them. Pick up your pace if walking or biking, play singles, not doubles, in tennis, or increase the incline on the treadmill to simulate hills when running. Also, take the stairs whenever possible and use a headset when on the phone so you can pace while talking.
3. Drink lots of water.
Adequate water consumption keeps your metabolism operating at its peak and staves off cravings. We often mistake thirst for hunger, which leads to extra calories and additional pounds. For every pound of body weight, drink ½ an ounce of water each day, more if you’re exercising vigorously.
4. Don’t fill your house with holiday treats.
Instead, stock up on true holiday goodies like Clementines, pomegranates, pistachios, walnuts, and cinnamon-spice tea. Place traditional temptations (cookies, candies, sugary nuts, and fudge) far back in the pantry or in the freezer and pull them out only on special occasions. If you leave them in plain sight, you’ll nibble on them often.
5. Skip the brown appetizers
Hors d’oeuvres that are brown usually mean they’ve been fried and pack approximately 100 calories per piece; the same is true with cheese and crackers. Instead, choose brightly colored appetizers like fruits, veggies, and shrimp.
6. Beware of the buffet.
We tend to eat twice as much at a buffet than if the meal was served to us. Here’s how to enjoy a beautiful spread without sabotaging your waistline.
- Survey the buffet table before placing anything on your plate.
- Serve yourself a little of whatever you want but limit it to a couple of bites of each. Put everything on your plate, including a small piece of dessert, at once. This way, there’s no reason to face the buffet’s temptation again – sorry, no seconds.
- Choose a seat to eat where you can’t see the buffet table – out of sight, out of mind.
- Fill your plate with two-thirds veggies and one-third lean protein, such as seafood, fish, or chicken. Avoid creamy salad dressings, dips, and sauces, including gravy, cheese, and fatty meats.
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. This will not only allow you to enjoy your food but will also keep you from overeating. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full.
- Most importantly… stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, not when you’re full. There is a BIG difference.
7. Watch your alcohol consumption.
Alcohol has calories, and mixing it with juice, tonic, soda, or cream will add even more. Avoid sweet drinks such as eggnog altogether. Eight ounces of this holiday treat, rum included, contains 400 plus calories and 20 grams of fat. Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two 5-oz servings of wine, alternating your drink with a glass of sparkling water. The carbonation tricks your body into feeling full. Need another reason to volunteer to be the designated driver? Alcohol stimulates your appetite and will make enjoying moderate amounts of holiday fare even more difficult.
8. Don’t treat holiday parties as an excuse to indulge in food and drink – instead, focus on socializing.
Take these opportunities to catch up with family and friends and engage in wonderful conversation away from the buffet table. It’s calorie-free!
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