This time of year, it is notoriously difficult to stay on track in regards to weight loss and maintenance. Weight gain for the average person from Halloween through New Year’s Day is two pounds. While that may not seem like a lot, according to researchers at the National Institute of Health say most Americans never lose the additional weight gained during that time. The accumulation of additional pounds over time, adds to the obesity epidemic and slow decline in general health and wellness. Many Americans’ cultural celebrations revolve around a shared meal or special foods. Often times, eating intuitively gets lost between high fat sweets and indulgences.
Is it possible to enjoy favorite holiday parties and seemingly endless, tempting treats without putting on additional weight? Yes. Preparation and portion control are important keys to success. Consider the following tips while out enjoying this festive season:
Eat first. Planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. Eat a protein-rich meal earlier in the day to keep you from overeating later on. Plan a nutritious snack like Greek yogurt or natural peanut butter on whole grain toast or a bagel. Try a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit. If you do arrive at a party hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
Bring your own healthy dish. Doing so will ensure there is at least one healthy choice at the buffet. Start with your own dish and fill up. Having something prepared and predictable will increase your confidence and your chances of staying within your plan of not overindulging.
Focus on relationships. Make your holiday more family and friends-focused and less centered on food. Develop relationships with new co-workers or strengthen bonds with family. For some, holiday events with family members can stir up a lot of emotions. Take the time you need to gain control of yourself and the situation before seeking comfort in holiday foods.
Set limits on alcohol. Alcohol can increase your appetite and decrease your willpower. Not to mention, it is loaded with sugar and empty calories that will leave you less than satisfied. Limit your intake and choose lighter beverages, like a glass of wine or a mixed drink with club soda. Try hydrating by alternating a glass of water in between cocktails.
Eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies have more fiber and fewer calories, so you can fill your plate, eat healthy and satisfy your appetite. Strategize when you will eat – don’t be the first in line. The longer you linger before indulging, the less likely you are to overeat. Finishing before everyone else may tempt you to go back for seconds.
Move away from the buffet. Fill a small plate with no more than two food items at a time, and then spend time mingling. Keep something in your hands – like a low-calorie drink – to avoid the temptation of grabbing appetizers as they pass. Fill your evening with conversation instead of standing around the buffet table.
Don’t deprive yourself of dessert. If you know you’re the type who can’t stop at one bite, you’re better off taking a small portion of a single dessert, then piling your plate up with several treats you want to try. Allow yourself a few holiday sweets, but choose wisely. Save your calories for items you really enjoy. Stay mindful of what and how much you’re consuming and enjoy your foods.