Holidays can cause havoc on your diet because most holiday gatherings include indulgent foods and drinks. In fact, the average weight gain between Halloween and New Year’s is 8 pounds. But surviving the holidays can be made a whole lot easier by employing the following survival techniques:
Where’s the beef? Protein helps to stabilize your blood sugar and make it easier to avoid hunger cravings, so eat a small amount of lean protein like turkey or chicken before you head out to a party. And be sure to reach for the meats, shrimp and seafood—in fact, 26 medium shrimp cocktail contains just 200 calories.
Crack up. Dips that are creamy or cheesy are already high in calories and fat, but if you just can’t skip them, dip with vegetables instead of higher-calorie crackers or breads. Just a taste may be enough to satisfy that craving.
Chew on it. Gum may be a good way to keep yourself from picking at foods when you’re really hungry. Plus, chewing gum before you walk into a party will give you fresh breath and may delay your first bite or beverage.
The glass is half full. Most social gatherings offer high-calorie alcoholic beverages like egg nog, cordials, margaritas and martinis. Wine and beer are lower-calorie options; mixers like club soda and water and condiments like lemons and limes can also help lower calorie totals. Even better: Alternate each alcoholic drink with a large glass of water to cut calories in half and keep you feeling full.
Plan ahead. Consider what you eat earlier in the day or even the day before a big celebration. Planning a lighter lunch or breakfast can help balance out the calorie overload from an upcoming celebration.
Get in some extra workouts. Knowing that this time of year is busy, it can be easy to justify skipping your workouts. But keeping them consistent or adding in an extra workout may be just what you need to stick to your health goals. Even 20 minutes of walking can burn off an extra 100 to 150 calories, which may be enough to help keep extra pounds from creeping on during the holidays.
Sleep in. Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your waistline. That’s because lack of sleep increases gherlin, which is a hormone that makes you hungry and limits the secretion of leptin, which helps burn fat. Be sure to get enough sleep following late-night celebrations by sleeping in or taking a short 20-minute catnap to catch up.
No loitering. A good way to eat less at a party is to stay away from the food. Simply stay out of the kitchen and choose to socialize away from the buffet. Walking just a few steps away can help prevent you from the mindless grazing that often adds up to lots of extra calories.
Opt in. It is good form to bring a holiday hostess gift, so why not bring the gift of healthy appetizers? Great options include shrimp cocktail, hummus with green and red peppers, and a plate filled with fresh berries, grapes and hard cheeses.
Take just one bite. It can be hard to pass up those holiday treats, cookies and pies, so take a smaller slice or just a bite. It will give you the satisfaction that you’re looking for and the first bite usually tastes much better than the last.