Is it possible to enjoy the holidays and avoid putting on weight? Its estimated that most people gain an average of one to five pounds during the holiday season. That doesn’t have to be you! This is the time of year when there is so much wonderful food to enjoy. With all the events and socializing we want to enjoy special meals and dishes that other people have made but we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves if we overindulge.
Here are five simple steps you can take to avoid gaining weight during the holidays –
- Downsize. Eat smaller portions. Use a smaller plate. Take smaller bites. You don’t have to refuse Aunt Sally’s pecan pie, just try a much smaller piece than you would normally have. Did you know that a standard slice of pecan pie has approximately 456 calories! If you have a slice that is half or a third of the normal size you can keep control of the calories and have room to try another holiday treat!
- Fast – Fasting one or two days a week can be immensely beneficial to managing your weight. Just take one or two days a week where you restrict your calorie intake. Limit yourself to vegetable juices, protein shakes, smoothies or fresh, broth soup and allow your body to burn through some of its fat reserves and cleanse your system of toxins. Be sure to drink plenty of water and don’t over exert yourself on your fasting days.
- Exercise. We all know that exercise is the best way to burn through all of that calorific fuel we’re consuming. If the weather is fine, go for a walk. If you have company over going for a walk can be a great way to get out and enjoy a conversation, away from the TV and the phones and clattering of dishes etc.. Dancing is another great way to burn some calories, so put on some of your favorite tunes and dance to your heart’s content. If you just want to stay inside by the TV there’s no reason you can’t exercise while watching TV! How about 20 jumping jacks during the first commercial, 20 lunges each side during the next commercial and 20 sit ups during the next one after that?! You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. There are so many simple exercises that you can do at home with things that you have at home. (If you have health concerns be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen)
- Plan Ahead. If you have some high calorie holiday favorites that you know you want to indulge in then be prepared to say no to some other items. Perhaps you really want to have marshmallow topped sweet potatoes as a once a year treat. In that case consider saying no to the buttery mashed potatoes. If you know that you want to enjoy a large portion of meat, consider pairing that with large salad or brussel sprouts. Its also good to know which dishes have the highest calorie content. Here is a link to a helpful reference for the calorie content for popular holiday dishes https://caloriecontrol.org/popular-holiday-dishes/ . If you are cooking for yourself you can have a lot more control of how much fat and sugar goes into a recipe.
- Watch Your Fluids. Some fluids are better than others and some can be dangerously high in calories! When I say fluids that includes, gravy, salad dressings and sauces. These can be surprisingly high in calories so be careful how much you add of these items. When it comes to beverages, water, naturally is the best bet. If you are indulging in alcoholic drinks you might be interested to know that a glass of egg nog has a surprising 432 calories! A 7oz glass of wine has 142 calories, but if you turn that into a spritzer instead it would be just 91 calories. Another healthy strategy is to follow each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
However, you choose to indulge over the holidays, enjoy yourself and the company of those you are with! Take the time to savor the moment, enjoy each bite, each conversation and moment with friends and family.