It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us – a celebratory time of year that thankfully revolves around family, friends and traditions. Socializing and spending time with the people we enjoy is wonderful for our health. Unfortunately, the numerous cocktail parties, company festivities, and family get-togethers often lead to overindulgence and weight gain. Typically, people put on 1-3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a seemingly harmless amount of additional weight, but for the fact that most of us never lose it. Continuing down this path will lead to an extra 10-30 pounds over just one decade. Fortunately, by making small adjustments and smart choices you can avoid this unhealthy trend.
1. Knowing you’re going to splurge a little over the holidays, cut calories elsewhere. You can eliminate 100-400 calories a day by making simple substitutions: exchange your afternoon latte for a cup of tea or plain coffee; forgo the slice of cheese in your omelet or sandwich for extra veggies; snack on veggies and hummus so you can bypass your colleague’s candy jar or holiday cookie platter; cook with cooking spray instead of oil; choose English muffins over bagels; use fresh lemon and vinegar for your salad dressing; and avoid holiday specialty drinks altogether. They’re loaded with calories (Starbuck’s Grande eggnog latte contains 460 calories).
2. Don’t skip your exercise. If necessary, shorten your workouts but intensify them. Pick up your pace if walking or biking, play singles not doubles in tennis, or increase the incline on the treadmill to simulate hills when running. Schedule 30 minutes of vigorous exercise into your calendar 5 days a week. Also, take the stairs whenever possible and use a headset when on the phone so you can pace while talking.
3. Drink lots of water. Adequate water consumption keeps your metabolism operating at its peak and staves off cravings. We often mistake thirst for hunger, which leads to extra calories and additional pounds. For every pound of body weight, drink ½ an ounce of water each day, more if you’re exercising vigorously.
4. Don’t fill your house with holiday treats. Instead, stock up on true holiday goodies like Clementines, pomegranates, pistachios, walnuts, and cinnamon-spice tea. Place traditional temptations (cookies, candies, sugary nuts, and fudge) far back in the pantry or in the freezer and pull them out only on special occasions. If you leave them in plain site, you’ll nibble on them often.
5.Skip the brown appetizers: Hors d’oeuvres that are brown usually mean they’ve been fried and pack approximately 100 calories per piece, same with cheese and crackers. Instead, choose brightly colored appetizers like fruits, veggies and shrimp.
6. Beware of the buffet: We tend to eat twice as much at a buffet than if the meal was served to us. Here’s how to enjoy a beautiful spread without sabotaging your waistline.
7. Watch your alcohol consumption: Alcohol itself has calories and mixing it with juice, tonic, soda or cream will add even more. Avoid sweet drinks such as eggnog altogether. Eight ounces of this holiday treat, rum included, contains 400 plus calories and 20 grams of fat. Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two 5-oz servings of wine, alternating your drink with a glass of sparkling water. The carbonation tricks your body into feeling full. Need another reason to volunteer to be the designated driver? Alcohol stimulates your appetite and will make enjoying moderate amounts of holiday fare even more difficult.
8. Don’t treat holiday parties as an excuse to indulge in food and drink instead focus on socializing: Take these opportunities to catch up with family and friends and engage in wonderful conversation away from the buffet table. It’s calorie free!