It’s that time of year when your staunchest plans to eat well and avoid gaining weight can be threatened as you face constant temptation to indulge.
Oh, the holidays — that time of year when a dizzying array of foods can break even the most strong-willed person. Your staunchest plans to eat well and avoid gaining weight can be threatened through New Year’s Day as you face constant temptation to indulge in treats. You may dodge the fudge at the office party only to succumb to your mother’s plea to have one more piece of pumpkin pie.
But consider this: You don’t have to gain weight if you’re careful and thoughtful about exercising and eating. Come up with a plan to keep yourself healthy during these difficult eating months — and make every effort to stick to it.
Pile on the Carrots
The key to the holidays is to enjoy friends, family, parties, and food, while remembering to exercise and control portion sizes.
At the buffet table, try filling your plate with fresh vegetables, melon slices, or other fresh fruit, salads, and slices of lean meat. Take smaller bits of the high-fat festive foods.
Instead of a sit-down gorge session, invite family and friends over at a between-meal time such as mid-afternoon or late evening. Serve a beverage and a few low-calorie snacks, such as steamed prawns with cocktail sauce, pretzels, air-popped popcorn, or low-fat tortilla chips and salsa. Pick a family member or friend to be your holiday binge-busting pal. Agree to cheer each other on when willpower wanes.
Don’t Forget Exercise
Burning off extra calories could prove key to avoiding holiday weight gain. Exercising after work before you head to a party could help curb your appetite — and help control added holiday stress.
Yet if your willpower fails one night, don’t panic. Get up extra early the next day and take a walk or head to the gym for an extra day during the week.
You also can work exercise into family events. Plan a brisk walk after dinner instead of a second helping of pie.
You can bring exercise into your everyday holiday tasks as well. Instead of yet another lunch with friends, plan to meet at the mall for a 30-minute brisk walk past the stores before beginning the gift-purchasing frenzy. Park your car far from the mall entryway or try walking part of the way to a shop.
Sample, Sample, Sample
Be selective about how many parties you attend and what you eat while you are there. Party hopping can take a brutal toll on your willpower.
Here are a few party-survival ideas:
- Sample, don’t pig out. Focus on other things to do: Mingle, listen to the band, even dance to burn off some calories. If there are stairs at the party venue, take them instead of the elevator.
- Decide before the party exactly what you will and won’t eat or drink — and then stick with your decision. Plan to taste five interesting hors d’oeuvres while munching mostly on the raw vegetables and fresh fruit. Or eat whatever you want, but only half as much as you usually take.
- Try standing far from the buffet table, visiting with people who are not eating, and covering your plate with a napkin to signal you’re done.
- Listen to your body and eat only when you’re hungry — and not just because the food is there or because other people are eating. Eat slowly, and remember it takes a while for your body to recognize that it’s full.
Bypass the Alcohol
Limiting your alcohol intake at parties could prove key to controlling binges. One drink too many can topple your willpower. Steer clear of alcohol and you’ll be less tempted to accompany it with salty, fattening snacks. And of course alcohol itself is high in calories, too.
- Switch from light beer or wine to sparkling water with lemon or lime. Drink lots of water at a party. Fluids will fill you up, helping you avoid the binge.
- Grab a diet cola instead of a mug of eggnog and you’ll save up to 300 calories.
- Sip iced tea instead of hot buttered rum and you’ll avoid 400 calories.
- One frosty pina colada can pack 465 calories — the calorie load of a double cheeseburger! Have an ice, cold orange juice instead.
Food is an important part of holiday festivities, but it shouldn’t be the main event. With a little care and planning, even the weakest willed person can avoid the binges. So pile your plate high with carrots and cucumbers and make a sparkling-water toast!