Toni Havala, MS, RD, LDN wrote for the Healthy Driven Blog from Edwards Elmhurst that yhe holidays are (almost) officially here! That means parties, hot chocolate, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, sweets, eating on the go—and often added stress.
The average person gains two pounds or less during the holidays, but studies have found that the weight remains until the next holiday. Here are some tips to keep that weight gain from snowballing.
- Plan ahead. Start each week by planning dinners, stocking healthy snacks and scheduling your workouts. This is not the time of year to try new and complicated recipes. Familiar recipes will take less time and reduce stress.
- Eat before you leave for the party. Eat something small before you face party food and drinks. That way you won’t arrive with an empty stomach and make bad choices. Eat some fruit, vegetables, a handful of nuts or some Greek yogurt before you head out the door.
- Step away from the buffet. Most holiday get-togethers include a buffet or hors d’oeuvres table. Once you fill your plate with one layer of food, walk away from the table. Try to focus on fresh salads, crudités and lean proteins like shrimp, turkey and ham. Avoid the high-calorie breads, pasta and cheese-laden items.
- Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the less you’ll eat. It takes your brain 15 minutes to register when your stomach is full. A slow eater will eat less food, which means fewer calories. Take your time when you eat and enjoy it.
- Drink up (water, that is). Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during a feast or while drinking alcohol (alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic drink). Water will keep you hydrated, which increases your energy level and reduces overeating.
- Make treats small. You’re allowed to have fun during the holidays! Allow yourself one small dessert. Be selective and savor it.
- Sneak in more veggies. Add more vegetables into each course when you cook. Making mashed potatoes? Make them half potatoes and half cauliflower. You can add steamed, pureed vegetables into almost any dish. Add pureed butternut squash to your macaroni and cheese—you will increase the nutritional value, decrease the calories per serving and no one will know the difference!
What’s your favorite holiday food?
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