Scaling Down: Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be challenging, but during the holiday season, it can seem nearly impossible.  From the grocery stores with their hyper-holiday promotions and “samples,” to the work place where ample supplies of baked goods and treats can regularly be found on desks and in the break rooms, the temptation can be overwhelming. 

Here are 10 reminders to help you scale down the holiday weight gain, and boost your health.   (Can we be reminded enough?)  J

  1. Never go anywhere hungry.  Weight Watchers has been providing this tip to its members for decades now.  A full stomach = self-control.  An empty stomach = loss of control. 
  2. Divert Your Attention.  Treat yourself to stimulating conversations or the beauty of the holiday lights and decorations so you can avoid unhealthy treats at the food table.
  3. Pace Yourself.  This is akin to the “less-is-more” concept.  By taking less on your plate, chewing slowly, and making your serving portion last longer, you can significantly decrease your chances of overeating.
  4. Keep Count.   No, it’s not fun to be this conscious about what we’re eating, but it’s so easy to overdo a good thing if we’re not paying attention—especially when it comes to hors d’oeuvres.  Because they’re small, bite-sized morsels, we forget that they are often high in fat, sodium, and calories.  It’s best to set a limit and stick to it.
  5. Beat the buffet.  Buffet-style meals can be a dieter’s best friend and worst nightmare.  The options are plentiful, which makes finding healthy options like fruit, vegetables, and even shrimp cocktail easier.  But it’s important to fill the larger part of the plate with these healthy options, while keeping meat and high-carb sides, like potato salad, to a minimum. 
  6. Limit Alcohol.  Aside from the high caloric content in alcohol, we also tend to eat more to “absorb” some of its effects.  By keeping our alcohol consumption to a minimum, we can maximize healthier options. 
  7. Sweets are not your friend.  That sounds harsh, but it’s true.  While sweets are often tasty and comforting, finding “comfort” in food should be a red flag to anyone working to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  8. BYOT.  Bring Your Own Treats, and don’t be embarrassed. As a matter of fact, bring enough to share with everyone.   There are loads of tasty, beautiful, and healthy treat recipes available, and many times people don’t even realize they’re eating something that’s good for them.
  9. Limit BLT’s. (No–not bacon, lettuce, and tomato.)  BLT’s is shorthand for bites, licks, and tastes.  If you do a lot of holiday cooking, be mindful of how often you are taking a bite, licking the spoon, or tasting for seasoning.  Studies show we consume far more calories than we think when we taste our way through a recipe. 
  10. Lastly, walk it off.   Burning off some of the extra calories we’re consuming is a smart way to maintain our weight.  Yes, it’s hard to excuse ourselves in the midst of festivities, but we can get others off the couch by inviting them to go with too.   A holiday walk may even become a part of your family traditions. 

By practicing just two or three of these tips, you can avoid getting derailed, and stay on track with your own health initiatives.  And one last reminder… you are worth it!

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