The holiday season is upon us once again and so are the delicious high calorie, diet busting dishes. Everywhere you turn you will be offered cookies, cakes, candies, and delicious holiday cocktails. Offices will throw holiday parties with tasty food and neighbors will show up at your home with a cake. Even your morning coffee seems to be a little richer. You are almost certain to pack on a pound or even five between Christmas and the New Year unless you take control of your diet during this festive time. You will find that losing those extra holiday pounds will be much more difficult and take far longer to lose than it took to gain them. You can avoid holiday weight gain, or at least keep it in check, by employing a few diet protecting tactics that won’t cast a pall on your holiday festivities.
#1. Eat Before You Eat
One sure way to destroy your diet and eat more than you should at a holiday party or get-together is to arrive hungry. You will tend to eat more than you should when you arrive at a holiday dinner or party and you are starving. You know there will be tempting dishes at a holiday party, so do yourself a favor and eat a light meal before you leave. Get in a festive mood by eating a colorful holiday salad with cranberries, walnuts, shredded carrots and a light red wine salad dressing about thirty minutes before you leave for the party. Toasted rice cakes spread with peanut butter or a sugar-free natural jam is a tasty way to curb your appetite. Munch on an apple, some raw carrots or a few sticks of celery with low-calorie cream cheese if you don’t have time to enjoy a more substantial snack. Drink plenty of water before and after your light meal to help you feel fuller, longer.
#2. Socialize Away From The Food
Enjoy the company of everyone at your holiday gathering, but avoid standing near the buffet or snack table. It’s too easy to reach into the chip bowl or grab another peppermint cupcake while standing around with your friends and colleagues and chatting, especially if those with whom you are chatting are also pinching a bite here and there. Standing around the food while socializing can lead to overeating and mindless eating, much like eating in front of the television. Step away from the food and join a group on the other side of the room or sit by the fireplace to chat with your friends. Bring your own low-calorie treat to an office potluck. Fresh fruit trays with low-calorie dipping sauces are a delicious, healthy alternative to cakes and pies.
#3. Measure Your Portions and Pace Yourself
With so many delicious choices at a holiday banquet, it’s easy to overdo it. As you go around the table, eat the foods you enjoy but take half portions or less. Try only a spoonful of the more calorie-laden foods. Select the smallest plate and don’t pile your plate super high with food. If fresh fruits and vegetables are available, choose those over cooked foods. Go around the buffet table only once. Resisting the urge to go back for seconds can mean the difference between keeping your shape and blowing your diet. Chew your food slowly and savor each bite. Put your fork down between each bite so that you will be more likely to chew your food thoroughly and enjoy what you eat. You will enjoy your food more and feel fuller faster. Be careful with sauces and dressings that might be high in calories, so go light on those or skip them altogether. Drink water before you eat and during your meal. Take a sip of water between bites to help you feel fuller.
#4. Go Ahead, Indulge Your Cravings
The chocolate cake is calling your name. Instead of denying yourself a little indulgence, go ahead and have some dessert. If you deny yourself a treat that you really want, you may indulge in other foods that have just as many calories. Choose small portions for your dessert. If you want to try more than one treat, select only one bite of each dessert and no more. Drink water during your meal, but especially with your dessert. If plain water doesn’t tickle your taste buds, try a flavored sparkling water instead. Add a slice of lemon or some fresh strawberries to sparkling water for flavor and color. Save the wine or cocktails for after your meal. You should limit your alcohol consumption at all times, but if you decide to drink alcohol during your holiday meal, you may be less concerned about what you eat. Alcohol can make you feel relaxed and lower your inhibitions. Drink in moderation, and only after you finish the meal.
#5. Watch Out for Liquid Calories
It’s not just the chocolate, cookies, candied yams, and puddings that pack on the pounds. Holiday and specialty drinks can add hundreds of calories to your diet. One cup of eggnog contains over 220 calories and 11 grams of fat. Coffee drinks topped with whipped cream or stirred with flavored creamers can contain over 130 calories. What could be more delicious than a steaming cup of hot chocolate topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a peppermint stick? If you add alcohol, such as a hot toddy with spiced rum, it can contain as many as 460 calories! If you must drink a hot toddy or eggnog, limit yourself to only one drink. Try sparkling water flavored with fresh fruit or sugar-free fruit juice, or enjoy a small glass of wine instead.
By keeping off the holiday pounds, you won’t be stressing about having to make a New Year’s weight loss resolution. The holiday season is not an excuse to slack on your regular daily exercise routine either. You can enjoy your regular healthy eating habits, exercise routine, and the festivities with a little planning. Plan your activities to leave time for fitness and watch what you eat to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you step on the scale.