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12 Ways to Just Say “No” to Holiday Weight Gain
Holiday weight gain may seem like a cliché, but like most clichés, there's some truth behind it. Many of us add at least a couple pounds to our frames, leaving us not so merry on January 1. I speak from personal experience: I have spent many a New Year's Eve fretting over what to wear because of how I ate during the previous two weeks. That said, it is possible to avoid extra holiday baggage and kick off 2011 feeling fabulous!
Shopping during the holiday season can be fun and exhilarating and an appetite suppressant. When I'm busy shopping, my appetite is nonexistent as I run from sale to sale. However, as the shopping wraps up for the day, adrenaline drops and hunger sets in, with the (unhealthy) food court calling. Here are three easy ways to be prepared:
- Pack a bag of emergency snacks. Grab an insulated bag and fill it with an ice pack (if the temperature is going to be above 40 degrees), ½ a turkey sandwich, 1 string cheese and an apple. Stow it in your car so it's ready when you've finished shopping.
- Choose a healthy option at a fast-food restaurant. Order a salad with grilled chicken (not crispy chicken), an open-faced turkey sandwich or a broth-based soup or chili.
- Load up on a protein-based meal before you embark on your shopping trip. An egg-white omelet with a slice of cheese and wheat toast should hold you for hours on end.
Being away from home, whether at a friend or family member’s home or at a hotel, is an easy way to get derailed from your healthy eating plan. With a little planning (see the three steps below), you can avoid this diet downfall.
- Pack dry, nonperishable foods in your luggage. Good items include protein bars, raw almonds and high-fiber breakfast cereal. They can keep you going until you've had time to run to the local market to get a few healthy food staples.
- Eat meals. Even if your hosts or travel buddies are not routine about their meals, try to stick with three squares per day. This will prevent mindless snacking.
- Speak up. Be clear that you are trying to stay healthy and mindful about your food this holiday season. Avoiding peer pressure to "just try it" is an important part of healthy holiday eating.
Did you know that sleep deprivation is a leading cause of obesity? When you are tired, your body craves energy so you turn to food for fuel. The busyness of the holiday season combined with lack of sleep puts you at risk for eating more. Offset this seasonal pitfall with these three tips:
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, and if you are averaging less than 7 hours of sleep per night, add in a power nap during the day. Even 30 minutes will recharge your battery, leaving you feeling energized and without the urge to turn to high-calorie foods for energy.
- Take five minutes to plan your meals for the day. Just a little mental planning is all it takes to combat poor last-minute meal decisions.
- Prepare ahead of time. Cook and freeze extra meals (meatballs, chilis, soups, stews and casseroles) during the first few weeks of December; this will help you to have last-minute meals on hand during the second half of the month. It's easy to make two meals when you're already making one.
Social calendars become busier than usual with events that are overflowing with high-calorie foods and drinks. But don't fret; you can still party hearty without packing on the pounds. Simply follow these three rules:
- Eat a protein-based snack with a side of veggies before going to the party. This combo will ward off hunger, making it easier to indulge in moderation. Good pre-party snacks are a few slices of turkey with a cup of veggie soup or ½ cup of cottage cheese with cut-up raw celery and carrots.
- Choose lower-calorie cocktails such as a white wine spritzer, a glass of champagne or an ounce of vodka with club soda and lime. These libations have less than half the calories of eggnog, mulled cider or holiday punch.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking ample water is especially important when you are going to enjoy a cocktail or two. Adequate hydration will help prevent the negative side effects of alcohol, energize you, and help keep your appetite under control.
How do you plan to stay healthy and nutritious during this holiday season? My dilemma is that I love holiday foods. My goal this year is to indulge in moderation, a hard thing to do, but so worth it in the end!