The holiday season is filled with tradition much of which involves getting together with family and friends – and eating. Without a doubt, this time of year poses a real challenge when it comes to watching the waistline. Large amounts of high calorie foods are everywhere and it’s not so easy to make it through the season without going up a pant size or two. And yet, with a desire and a plan you can avoid gaining weight this year; and maybe even lose some. There are many ways to keep your calorie intake under control during the festivities. Check out these surprisingly easy holiday weight loss tips and strategies. Don’t gain weight this holiday season!
1. Serve leaner options. When you are hosting a get-together, modify the menu to be leaner and more nutritious. Start by serving lighter appetizers. Modify your favorite recipes by substituting lower fat ingredients such as low-fat or fat-free yogurt and sour cream. Use fruits and vegetables with dips and spreads, instead of chips or crackers. And for the main meal, be sure to include a few nutritious lower-calorie side dishes like fruits, vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, and wild-rice stuffing.
2. Bring something lean. When you are an invited guest, offer to bring something. Prepare a lower-calorie main dish or dessert. For example, make a fat-free stuffing by substituting broth for the margarine or butter in your recipe. It tastes just as good. You can also add more celery and onion to your recipe to increase the vegetables and further reduce the calories per serving. For a calorie-conscious traditional dessert, try lightening-up your favorite pumpkin pie recipe by using evaporated skim milk and egg substitute. Make it with the traditional single crust or lower the calories even more by eliminating the crust. If you are making a crust-less pie, be sure to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in the filling. This will prevent sticking and make it easier to serve. Top each slice with a dollop of fat-free whipped topping. Yum!
3. Take charge. If you are staying with family or friends during the holidays, ask them if you can have some space in the refrigerator to keep your essentials. Bring a few key foods with you such as lean deli meats, apples, baby carrots, cottage cheese, nonfat cheese sticks, yogurt, or whatever it is that will help you stay on track and avoid weight gain.
4. Look before you eat. Survey the entire table before you take any food. Decide what foods are worth eating and which ones you can skip, and then stick to that decision. Why waste calories on foods that you can have anytime of the year?
5. Plan ahead. Never go to a party hungry. Hunger and low blood sugar can lead to overeating. Before you leave home eat something light. For example, have a serving of fruit, fat-free yogurt, a small whole grain granola bar, or a bowl of vegetable soup. If you arrive starving, you’ll be more likely to overindulge.
6. Watch what you drink. Alcoholic beverages pack a caloric punch so if you’re drinking alcohol, stick to lower calorie options such as light beer or wine spritzer. Punch, eggnog, and mixed drinks can have up to 500 calories per cup. Try this strategy: sip a large glass of water between every alcoholic drink or non-alcoholic punch or eggnog. This will help keep you hydrated and you’ll drink fewer calories by the end of the night.
7. Focus on socializing. Find a comfortable spot away from the food and focus on the people instead of the eating. Don’t hang out near the buffet table. Make a clear-cut decision to distance yourself from all of the goodies. Remember – it’s your choice to overeat – or not.
8. Watch your portion sizes. When it comes to traditional holiday foods, in most cases, less is better. Enjoy your favorites but take small portions, eat slowly, and savor the taste and texture of each and every bite. Make a conscious effort to stop eating before you feel full otherwise you will end up overeating and feeling stuffed.
9. Just say No Thank You. You may feel pressured to eat as people keep putting food in front of you. Politely say, “No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious but I couldn’t eat another bite”. This works every time. It’s direct, yet polite. The host/hostess will appreciate the compliment and you will avoid overeating out of guilt.
10. Keep up with exercise. Exercise will not only help burn calories during your workout, it will rev up your metabolism throughout the rest of the day. Another added benefit of exercise is that it boosts endorphins; and when your endorphins are high, you’ll cope better with all the stress that makes the holidays what they are.
Bottom Line: If you find that you need extra support during this hectic time of year, give me a call. Staying motivated to lose weight can be extremely challenging during the holidays. I can help! My passion is working with people yearning to be thinner who have spent years failing at one diet after another. I incorporate scientifically-based nutrition and health information with specific techniques and strategies proven to be effective in motivating change.
Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS RD, is a food and nutrition expert specializing in weight management. She is committed to empowering people through education, support, and inspiration to make real changes that lead to optimal health and lasting weight loss. Sign up for her Free Consultation and receive expert advice on how to lose 20 lb. – or more. Jump Start your weight loss today! http://njnutritionist.com/freeconsult