From now until New Year’s, it’s a season of eating, drinking and, well, more eating and drinking.
And worrying about how all those extra calories will translate into extra pounds the next time you dare to step on the scale.
Relax. It doesn’t have to be another holiday of nail-biting between nibblings, experts say. All you need is the proper attitude and proven strategies that work to keep your calories-in, calories-out equation balanced.
Anyone who’s fought with the scale over the holidays (or shoved it under the bed) knows the basic tricks: Drink water or eat an apple before heading out to a party. Or say, “No, thank you,” nicely but firmly, when Aunt Hattie offers you a giant piece of pecan pie a la mode for the fifth time.
But other strategies and perspectives may be new to you.
- Don’t go to a party hungry. Think about the types of foods present at holiday parties – they may not always be the most healthful. If you go to a party hungry you are more likely to overeat. When attending a holiday function, try to eat ahead of time to lessen your hunger. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch and a snack beforehand. Balance party foods and meals with other meals. Eat smaller meals with fewer calories during the day so you can enjoy the party – without exceeding one’s energy intake for the whole day. For those smaller meals, include low-fat protein as well as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains for fiber. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you’ll be less tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you instead starve all day long attempting to “save up” all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat.
- When at a party, scout out healthy food options rather than doing a grab and run on all the unhealthy selections. For example, vegetable sticks (without dip), fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy offerings. You will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled-up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied.
- Know what to skip at holiday dinners, skip the gravy, dressings, and high-calorie condiments. For dinner parties, skip dessert or choose fresh fruit if it is available. If you are served a desert, eat half. Remember, smaller is better. When the food at a party is being served buffet-style, make one trip through the buffet line and take only small amounts of the foods that you really like. If possible, use a salad plate so that your plate looks full and it provides portion control. Don’t linger at the buffet or in the kitchen. If you loiter in close proximity to all the guilty temptations, you’ll struggle to keep from unconsciously shoveling food into your mouth.
- Focus on socializing. Remember one of the great things about the holidays is spending time with friends and family. During get-togethers spend the majority of time sharing conversation instead of sharing desserts. · Socialize away from the food table. This will reduce the temptation to overeat and allow you to focus on the great conversations you are having with your friends, family, and co-workers.