Cool Ideas

Battle the Holiday Bulge

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays quickly approaching, ‘tis the season when many of us pack on a few extra pounds. Most likely this is due to extra helpings of homemade pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes with plenty of gravy, as well as forgiving winter wardrobes that keep our trouble areas carefully concealed until the dreaded arrival of swimwear season. Luckily we’re here to share a few easy ways to avoid the seasonal sentence of five or 10 extra pounds. Not only will you look and feel great, but you’ll also be doing a big favor to your health.

  1. Do indulge: It’s okay to eat small amounts of your calorie-packed holiday favorites. Not only will this make it easier to get through the temptations of the holidays, but it may actually be healthier than stressing over every last bite. The key is to keep your indulgences to about once a week versus once per day, as well as portion control. Many of us take a “Why stop now?” approach once we have cheated on our diets, when the reality is limited treats won’t impact your overall goals.
  2. Eat more slowly: Studies show that people who eat more slowly consume fewer calories. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that we’re full, so if we eat slowly we realize that we’re full and stop on time. Conversely, when you eat quickly, you will end up eating more than your body actually wants or needs.
  3. Have a healthy snack before partying: Eat a high protein snack like almonds, cottage cheese, or celery with peanut butter an hour before meals or parties. This will help you feel fuller and eat less; plus we tend to make wiser food choices when our stomachs aren’t growling.
  4. Drink water: Studies show that drinking plenty of water during the day keeps you full, hydrated and prevents over-eating.
  5. Drink responsibly: Alcoholic beverages tend to be high in calories, and most people don’t realize how a drink or two can add up. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks are the worst offenders, containing up to 450 calories per glass. Instead, opt for light wines and beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. Also beware of nonalcoholic favorites like eggnog and cider, which pack a serious, well, punch.
  6. Substitute ingredients: Many holiday recipes are just as delicious when you substitute ingredients that are high in fat or calories with a healthier alternative. Try using applesauce instead of oil when making muffins or breads; use nonfat milk when mixing up those mashed potatoes, and have some salad with your turkey instead of green bean casserole.
  7. Stay active: Even if it’s just a walk after a big meal, resist the urge to give into your food coma. Ask others around you to take a walk with you for added motivation.
  8. Out of sight, out of mind: Put food away as soon as you are done eating it. And if you’re at a party, don’t hang out by the food table. If food is in arm’s reach, you are going to eat it, and those extra bites quickly add up.
  9. Get some sleep: Sleep is your body’s time to restore itself, and is directly related to how much you eat, exercise, and could even affect your metabolism. Aim for seven to nine hours each night