Studies show that people usually gain 3 to 7 pounds during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. While a little holiday weight gain may seem harmless enough, the problem is that most people have trouble losing that weight after the holidays have passed. Over time, those extra pounds really add up. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays without sabotaging your waistline.
- Plan ahead. Eat lighter a few days before and after a holiday event. Have a small snack before a party to help curb your appetite so you don’t arrive hungry and are tempted to overeat.
- Limit beverage calories. Holiday beverages like eggnog, punch, alcoholic drinks, and sodas are high in calories and do little to fill you up. Be intentional to choose mostly calorie-free beverages, like water, regular tea, and diet soft drinks, during the holiday season. If having holiday beverages is important to you, select one or two specials events to have them.
- Shrink portions. Take half the amount of food you would normally get and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.
- Choose the foods you really want. There are many foods like salad, bread, and ice cream that you can have any time of the year. Instead, enjoy small amounts of the traditional holiday foods. And if a food doesn’t taste absolutely wonderful, don’t waste calories on it!
- Make a healthy swap. Modify your traditional recipes to make them lower in calories. Reduce calories in your mashed potatoes by using 1% or skim milk, lessen the amount of butter, and experiment with plain non-fat yogurt in place of sour cream. Skip the traditional green bean casserole and replace with steamed greens with a small amount of butter and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Reduce the amount of brown sugar and pecans in your sweet potato casserole or just replace it with baked sweet potatoes. Choose white turkey meat over brown meat and remove the skin. Pumpkin pie has about 1/3 of the calories of pecan pie. Slice holiday pies into more pieces (for example, 12 instead of 8) to create a slightly smaller portion with fewer calories.
- Get moving. Walk an extra lap around the mall before and after your holiday shopping. Ride a stationary bike while watching the holiday specials. Organize a group to go caroling around the neighborhood or walk to see the lights. Getting regular physical activity can reduce holiday stress, help burn off extra calories and keep your muscles toned.
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