It’s that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner — frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor’s, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll put on a pound or two by New Year’s Day.
So what’s the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it’s just a pound?
Not only does it knock you off your healthy eating plan you worked so hard all year to establish and maintain. But it can make it harder to get refocused once the holidays are over and the guilt sets in. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor that sets the tine for the rest of the year.
But you don’t have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy the holidays without putting on a single pound if you have a battle plan.
Starting your day with a satisfying morning meal — especially one that includes protein — can help prevent overeating at holiday gatherings and parties later in the day. In a hurry? Grab a nonfat yogurt and a piece of fruit. If you’ve got extra time, whip up an omelet with one whole egg plus two to three egg whites stuffed with lots of chopped veggies and some reduced-fat cheese.
Have a light snack (under 200 calories) about an hour before you make your entrance at a party or other holiday event. This will help take the edge off so you don’t dive into the first edible item you lay eyes on (helloooo, chocolate-fondue fountain!). Smart snacks include apple slices with one level tablespoon peanut butter, two rice cakes topped with sliced turkey, and a stick of string cheese with a banana or orange.
Wear something fitted and fabulous to an event: When you’re feeling great about how you look (and conscious of how snug your clothes are fitting), you’ll be less apt to eat. Once you’re there, hang out with a group of talkers, not the people gathered around the buffet table. You’ll be less tempted if you keep your distance from the chowing-down crowd.
Alcohol is a double whammy: It’s loaded with calories (it’s basically dessert in a glass) and it lowers your inhibitions, which means you’ll probably end up eating more than you planned. Avoid seasonal drinks like spiked eggnog, buttered rum, and peppermint (schnapps) hot chocolate, which are laden with calories, sugar, and fat. If you must indulge have one medium goblet (4 oz) of wine and skip the dessert.
Nibbling and grazing between meals is a problem year-round for many people, but it hits an all-time high during the month of December, when cookie platters, appetizer trays, boxes of chocolates, and seasonal baked goods begin to pop up everywhere. All those extra bites and sips can add up to hundreds or thousands of calories per week if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s especially important to maintain a structured eating schedule throughout the holidays and be super-mindful of the extracurricular munching.
If you keep your portions in check, you can enjoy some of the highlights of your favorite holiday meals and events without going overboard. Stick with just ONE of the deliciously tempting hors d’oeuvre, one moderate plate of food, And make a choice between one alcoholic drink, or one dessert
Your family members may pressure you to eat more than you’re comfortable with, or guilt you into sampling rich foods that you’d rather leave off your plate. My best advice is to be polite but firm and pay attention to the way you phrase your response. You might respond, “That looks really delicious, but I’m full and working hard not to overeat.” In other words, say something that will enable you to forgo the dish without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Many people forget that there’s more to a holiday party than food. Don’t look at the party as just a food event. Enjoy your friends’ company or dancing. Focus on something other than food. Chatting is a great diversion, whether you’re at a small family dinner or a large party. Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation or a fun family activity.
Choose a few special events or parties that you look forward to all year and plan to indulge at those celebrations. The rest of the season, stick to your normal, healthy eating and exercise habits. Remember — they’re called holidays, not holi-weeks or holi-months!
Your schedule may be even more hectic than usual amid the holiday hubbub, but it’s more important than ever to make time for exercise. Staying active helps you burn off extra calories from countless appetizers, creamy dips, rich desserts, candy, and other holiday indulgences, and it’s also a great way to counteract the stress that often accompanies family get-togethers and holiday planning. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day (walking counts!).
Turn your countless mall excursions into mini-workouts. Park in one of the farthest lots, take the stairs instead of the escalator, walk from store to store at a brisk pace, and carry your own bags (don’t palm them off on your husband or kids). If you have the time, take an extra lap around the whole mall and do some window shopping — who knows, you might even spot that one gift you’ve been struggling to find in a store you don’t normally frequent.
Keep your purse or desk stocked with healthy, portion-controlled emergency snacks. I like small bags of nuts mixed with dry cereal, nutrition bars or granola bars (200 calories or less), roasted edamame, and portable fruit, like apples and bananas. Having an appealing, good-for-you snack stash can help you fight the urge to gobble down tempting, calorie-laden seasonal treats at the office when hunger strikes. If you’re traveling during the holidays, follow the same advice: Pack your own healthy snacks for the car, plane, or train so that you’re less vulnerable to making bad choices.
Indulging and eating special goodies is part of the holiday experience. If you ate a bit more than you intended to and feel the guilt creeping in, accept that you allowed yourself to enjoy something you wanted, and then mentally and emotionally wipe your slate clean. Don’t let one day of treating yourself spiral out of control. Remember this: It’s very easy to work off the extra calories from a single heavy meal but incredibly hard to undo several days of nonstop overeating. Whatever happened the day before, start fresh the very next morning with a slimming breakfast and high-energy workout to help you refocus and reboot.
Source: Joy Bauer.com, Web MD