Indulging doesn’t have to translate into extra pounds.
During the holiday season, healthy eating and regular exercise routines can easily fall by the waistline as holiday shopping and celebrations laden with tempting, caloric food crowd the calendar.
“People are always worried about gaining weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s but the best strategy may be just working towards maintaining current weight while we focus on the true meaning of the season,” says Pam Anderson, dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. “Concentrate on being more thankful than stressed and have fun with family and friends.”
With that goal in mind, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica offers five easy-to-use tips to maintain, not gain, during the holiday season.
1) Make Your Home Healthier — Since you’ll have lots of opportunities to indulge at holiday parties and events, make your home a safe haven by removing temptations like chips, cookies, candy and other unhealthy foods. Instead, have an apple, carrots and celery sticks with hummus or a handful of almonds when you’re hungry.
2) Drink Plenty of Water — Many people mistake thirst for hunger and end up eating to quench their thirst. So instead, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when near holiday spreads. Water not only keeps your metabolism running well, it also reduces cravings for unhealthy food.
3) Remake Your Plate — Enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but just eat less of them. And when you’re finished with that smaller portion of your holiday favorite, follow the new federal MyPlate recommendations. These guidelines recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with whole grains. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy holiday foods without any guilt.
4) Practice Savvy Snacking — Plan ahead. Eat a healthy snack or small meal at home before going to a holiday celebration. You’ll be less apt to overeat.
5) Exercise A Bit More — Since part of the fun of the holidays is enjoying treats specific to the season, if you do indulge, just slightly increase your exercise each day to compensate. Make it fun by catching up with a friend on a hike or at the gym.
“With some planning and preparation, these tips can ensure that you’ll be able to fit comfortably into your New Year’s Eve outfit and won’t need to be among the throngs of people going cold turkey on goodies and crowding the gyms after January 1,” says Anderson.