The holiday season can present a major challenge to our waistlines. Get togethers are a fun way to enjoy the time of year, but it can be hard to resist all the high calorie food and beverages. There are many ways in which you can strike a balance between maintaining a healthy diet and enjoying the parties. Here are ten tips to help you through the season and come away without gaining any weight.
- Exercise: Physical activity will help to offset the additional calories you may consume. What’s more, exercise is a great at reducing stress, which comes naturally with the holiday season. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. If you already do that, add an additional ten minutes to your workout.
- Be selective about the food you choose to eat. Save your calories for food that you really like, but you don’t eat often; so that what you eat feels “worth it.” Don’t waste your calories on things like chips and cookies, which you can get any time.
- Increase your water intake. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so before reaching for something to eat, try drinking some H2O. Water can help to keep you hydrated and when 16 ounces is consumed before a meal it can help you eat less due to the feeling of fullness you’ll experience.
- Watch the liquid calories. The calories in alcohol add up quickly, and the same goes for non-alcoholic beverages like soda and punch. Drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it more likely you’ll overindulge. If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake to 1 or 2 drinks and be sure to have a glass of water between drinks to counterbalance the dehydrating effect.
- Eat regularly. If you are going to an event, don’t skip meals throughout the day to save calories, you’ll only end up very hungry and at risk of over-eating once you get to the party. Eat lighter, balanced meals beforehand like a mixed green salad with grilled chicken and choose a high fiber snack like roasted edamame or apple slices.
- Practice portion control. Scan the buffet to evaluate your options before you make yourself a plate. Choose a smaller dinner plate when filling up: a larger plate means more food. Make half your plate vegetables.
- Bring your own food. If you’re headed to a party, choose a healthy dish that you can bring to share with the group. No matter what kind of food is there, you’ll have something you can eat and feel good about.
- Refine your cooking. To save fat and calories, bake foods instead of frying them, sauté’ vegetables in chicken or vegetable broth, and reduce the butter or sugar in dessert. Offer crudité as an appetizer in place of chips and dip and buy or prepare portion-controlled treats.
- Socialize. Focus on the people at the party – this is what the season is all about! Enjoy the conversation and any activities. It will keep you away from hanging around the buffet table and eating mindlessly.
- Stay focused. If you fall “off the wagon” and eat more than you had intended, just remember, the wagon hasn’t gone anywhere. Get right back on track with your next healthy meal or snack. It takes more than one meal to thwart your progress.
The dietitians at Waverley Oaks Athletic Club can help you stay on track and devise a healthy plan during the holiday season. Prevention is the best cure to help avoid the guilt-driven weight loss New Year’s resolutions! We accept all the major insurance plans and would be happy to check your benefits for you.
Content submitted by Janyce Gately MS, RD, LDN, CHC