Mince meat or pecan Pies? Fruitcake? Eggnog? Candy Canes? Gingerbread? We all have our weaknesses over the holidays. It is a six-week gorge-fest that goes through holiday dinners, parties, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Before you know it you are filling out like Santa Claus.
Research suggests that if you are already packing some extra weight you are particularly at risk of weight gain during the holidays. And usually more than just a few pounds.
Here are some tips on how you can plan so you can both stay slim and not sacrifice any fun during the holidays.
1. Recipe slimming. There are many substitutions that can be make that cut down on calories. By freezing the drippings from the turkey for about fifteen minutes, you can skim off the fat before seasoning and thickening it. Instead of the popular green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup try this instead: saute green beans in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh sage. And yams with all brown sugar, butter and marshmallows instead use cinnamon and ginger, raisins, carrots and apple cider vinegar.
2. Stay away from temptation. During the holidays many stores set up displays with tempting goodies. Keeping to your list will help you avoid such displays. Don’t have loads of goodies setting around your home. Set away from buffet tables or candy bowls at parties. And don’t arrive at the party hungry or you are just looking for trouble. Eat something first and be sure you are eating breakfast lunch and dinner. Healthy snacks like low carb bars, celery with peanut butter or a handful of nut will do you more good than sugary snacks.
3. Be Prepared. If you plan what you are going to eat and how much before hand you are less apt to over eat. If you know grandma is making her special dish don’t squander calories on something else instead.
4. Try to stress less. Try to relax and prepare for things you know may be stressful. A proven stress reliever is exercise so try to fit in a 10 minute walk a couple of times a day. And if you get over stressed try listening to some music or set down and watch a favorite TV show. Worrying over money can cause a lot of stress. Planning your budget ahead of time helps to keep away from splurging. Home made gifts are very special and well received in most families. Try to get as much sunlight as you can because this produces more serotonin and it is a mood booster.
5. Get your rest. Adults need about seven hours of sleep daily. Sleep deprivation also means more coffee drinking which keeps you awake but also on edge. A lack of sleep can cause weight gain due to the increasing levels of the hormone that stimulates appetite, called ghrelin, and decrease in the levels of leptin which makes you feel full.
6. Drink sensibly. Those specialty coffees at McDonuld’s and Dunkin Donuts can mean about 450 calories. Eight ounces of eggnog with added spirits is about 370 calories. A 1.5 ounce glass of Kahlua is 170 calories. Alcohol weakens your resolve for sensible eating. You might move on to sparkling water after one alcoholic drink.
7. Set next to a more lively, active person. Setting by the more gregarious or lively relative or friend will keep you busy and less apt to eat or drink too much of the wrong things. Take a pedometer with you and try to stand and walk as much as possible. Counting steps will lead you to making more of them.
8. Weigh yourself daily. Weighing yourself each day is very helpful during the higher risk periods of the holidays. You will know where you stand weight-wise and if you need to be moving more. A trip to the gym may not be in the program but dancing at a party, delivering meals, walking to enjoy neighborhood decorations, or shopping at the mall can help to keep you from experiencing scale shock on January 1st.
9. Nutritious choices at potlucks and dinners. Although the regular veggie platter will probably be overlooked for the most part try making a roasted vegetable platter with herbs. Take carrots, zucchini, parsnips, celery and mushrooms, slice and toss with a little olive oil and herbs. Roast at 350 for 15-25 minutes. It will be tasty and you will have no excuse not to have a healthy choice.
10. Form fitting clothes. If you wear loose, baggy clothing you are more apt to eat too much. Wear form fitting and you are more apt to stay within your healthful choices and eat less. Jeans are a good choice.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.