14 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips That Will Help You Avoid Those Extra Pounds
Pack emergency eats in your purse so you're not easily seduced by fast-food options. This starter kit of slimming snacks keeps well: a small bag of nuts and seeds (almonds and sunflower seeds are a great combination); a few sticks of string cheese; an apple, a banana, or a pear.
Little bites of treats can add up quickly, so if you're tempted to munch while baking or cooking, fill a bowl with non-starchy vegetables, such as grape tomatoes, bell pepper sticks, and cucumber slices. You can still nibble but with a better outcome.
Decide on a deadline and a goal, such as minutes to buy two presents. You'll be less likely to swing by the food court if the clock is ticking. Plus, you'll move faster and burn more calories.
The holidays are no time to slack off on exercise. Not only does it help you burn extra calories, it's also a great way to counteract the stress that often comes with family get-togethers. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day (it can be a 30-minute workout or three 10-minute chunks of walking).
Having a morning meal—especially one with protein—will prevent overeating during the day. Protein keeps you feeling full for hours so it'll be easier to forgo temptations that seem to lurk around every corner this time of year. An ideal breakfast includes healthy carbs (whole-wheat toast or half a whole-wheat bagel) with some lean protein like egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese or nonfat Greek yogurt.
About an hour before that holiday meal or party, eat a 200-calorie snack (e.g., a small apple and reduced-fat string cheese). That way, you won't arrive ready to pounce on the first edible item you see.
Make it a rule that you can eat only while sitting down—not standing. This will help you focus on savoring what's in front of you and prevent you from becoming distracted and unaware of the fact that you're full.
After you've eaten a few apps, resist the urge to clear your plate. Instead, hold on to it as a reminder of what you've already eaten. The remaining bones, wrappers, or toothpicks can help you skip seconds.
In one hand, hold a low-cal drink, like a wine spritzer. In the other, hold a water or seltzer. That leaves you no hands to hold a plate of food or mindlessly grab snacks. Bonus: You'll stay hydrated, which can help relieve stress-induced headaches.
Alcohol is a double whammy: It's often loaded with calories and it lowers your inhibitions, which means you can end up eating more than you planned. Stick with wine (one medium glass), wine spritzers (one or two glasses), or light beer (two cans or bottles, max). Avoid mixed drinks made with soda or fruit juice and frou-frou drinks like piña coladas and margaritas unless you're counting them as dessert.
You can enjoy all your favorites at holiday parties as long as you keep portions under control. Stick to one small plate of appetizers, one plate of food for your meal (that's full, not packed), one alcoholic drink, and one small serving of dessert. Many people go overboard on the appetizers in particular. They may be small, but they're often deep-fried or chockfull of cheese or butter. If you want more after that one small plate, stick to crudités (no dip) or boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce.
It's easy to feel obligated to eat food you don't actually want. Instead, come up with an effective way to politely turn down a dish. Try: "Looks amazing, but I'm so satisfied. Maybe later!"
If you're the host, pack up any extra food that might tempt you in the days ahead and send it home with your guests.
The day after a big holiday meal or party, return to your healthy eating routine. A few blowouts a year won't significantly impact your weight as long as you don't prolong the festivities.
Video: Weekly Headlines 12.17.14
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