Every year around this time, the holiday festivities start to stack up, increasing the opportunities we have to eat unhealthy food: fried holiday appetizers, snowman-shaped sugar cookies, eggnog, etc. Since the holiday season is but once a year, many of us have a tendency to look at this time as a "get out of jail free" card.
Think a few weeks of indulgence won't matter? Unfortunately, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. That's why it's important to have a strategy to avoid permanent repercussions. After all, the new year is right around the corner, and that lose-weight, get-healthy resolution will be much easier to attain, the less you gain.
Here are 5 tips to avoid holiday weight gain:
1. Take every opportunity to move. This is one time when the busy holiday season can work to your advantage! Turn your shopping trip into a calorie-blasting workout by taking the stairs instead of the escalator. Or add a family walk to check out the Christmas lights to your list of traditions. Personally, my kids love it when I turn on some upbeat holiday music and dance around the house with them!
2. Don't go hungry. Avoid stuffing yourself at holiday parties by eating healthy beforehand. By eating a big breakfast, or starting with soup and an eight-ounce glass of water before you eat your main course, you can sidestep that extra helping of pie. Selecting healthy foods first can fill you up before you even get to the dessert.
3. Pace yourself. The next time you sit down to a holiday meal, try to eat slowly, allowing time for your stomach to tell your brain when to stop. Since it can take up to 15 minutes for your stomach to realize it's full, take time between bites and courses to put down your fork and have a good conversation. I use this precious time to catch up with my hubby and find out what my kids are excited about in their lives.
4. Strike a deal. Make a deal with yourself to limit the amount of sweets and other fat-producing foods you eat. Try the one-a-day rule and eat only one treat a day. By choosing which "naughty" foods to eat - and which not to - you still get to enjoy holiday treats while beating the bulge.
5. Watch the drinking. The holiday season can come with some tasty - but diet-lethal - cocktails. Between the spiked eggnog and the mulled wine, we can be tempted to have a little too much, blowing all the work we put into losing the belly fat. If drinking is essential, make sure to alternate each drink with a glass of water, or add soda or flavored water to your drinks, rather than sugary mixers.
How do you keep holiday pounds at bay?