Avoiding holiday weight gain is almost as an impossible of a task as avoiding unpleasant relatives during the holiday season. However, unlike your relatives, you can choose your foods and snacks. To empower your choices this holiday season, the Calorie Control Council offers these 7 tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain in 2011.
Weight gain while on a diet is especially problematic during the holidays: Multiple dinner parties, office parties and kids’ parties, as well as gifts of chocolate, cakes, cookies and pastries - it’s like the World is against any notion of you losing just a few more pounds before the New Year.
However, maybe the notion of losing those few more pounds during the holidays is as crazy as the notion of not sticking with your diet. Perhaps a more realistic notion is to maintain the weight loss you have achieved thus far until the holiday food madness has passed. In other words, don’t give up on your diet and binge in surrender; rather, maintain your weight loss victories by making sure that you do not regain the lost weight.
According to Beth Hubrich, a registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, “By making simple substitutions, being physically active and eating smarter, you can enjoy the holidays without weight gain. The trick is to budget calories, keep portion sizes in check and remember that fruits and vegetables can fill you up without extra calories."
The Calorie Control Council recommends the following 7 tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain:
1. Exercise: There are a number of ways to be active including keeping track of steps per day with holiday shopping, ice skating, playing active video games, decorating, lawn work, and house cleaning. Exercise not only burns calories but also releases endorphins that help reduce stress and keep people in good spirits.
2. Fuel Up before Heading Out: Try to have a healthy snack before leaving the house—whether going shopping or to dinner. Never go anywhere famished—it can lead to overindulgence and diet derailing.
3. Portion Control: Save calories by choosing a smaller plate and taking a tablespoon or less of each holiday dish. Think of it like free samples - try one of each without going overboard. Desserts can even be served sample sized.
4. Classics with Fewer Calories: Find and fix lower-calorie versions of your favorite dishes, desserts and beverages. Create healthier versions of holiday favorites by using skim milk instead of whole milk, applesauce in place of oil, or a sugar substitute in place of the sugar in a recipe. To thicken a liquid without adding fat, use one of the following: flour, cornstarch, potato flakes, yogurt or non-fat evaporated milk. Just by using zero-calorie sweeteners and lower-calorie ingredients, you can enjoy delicious food without feeling guilty.
5. Socialize Away from Food: So often people find themselves socially snacking before and after meals. Try to strike up a conversation where food is out of sight. If there is a bountiful buffet, take a survey first. Skip foods that can be had “anytime” and opt for small portions of favorite holiday foods. Make the first trip to the buffet also the last.
6. Lighten up Leftovers: Skip the turkey sandwich with bread and gravy and instead go for turkey with leftover veggies. There are even salads, soups and other dishes that can be made with leftovers that are lighter on calories and help avoid holiday food burnout.
7. The Buddy System: Don’t wait until New Year’s to make resolutions with a buddy—find a friend or family member before the holidays to exercise with and compare healthy eating notes with every day. A little competition can help both stay focused on their goals.