As we’re finishing up our Thanksgiving leftovers and preparing for holiday parties, many of us may want to press “pause” on our diets. It’s understandable – we think we’ll cheat a bit for now and get back on track with the new year.
The problem is that many people don’t lose their extra holiday weight. And with extra weight contributing to health complications from heart disease to memory issues, it might be worth taking a look at your holiday eating habits if you tend to gain this time of year.
If you want to keep your diet on track this year, try our tips for avoiding holiday weight gain.
1. Aim for 5-a-day
A great way to fill up on healthy foods is to make a goal to get five servings of fruits or vegetables a day. This is a great goal to keep all year round, but it can be especially helpful during times when your routine is broken. This time of year is full of potlucks and shared dishes, but it’s hard to know just how much sugar is in someone’s homemade Christmas cookies.
Rather than counting calories, focus on counting your servings of produce instead. You’ll fill up on the good stuff and be less tempted to overindulge on the not-so-good stuff.
2. Balance Your Plate
Some people find that sticking with a smaller plate rather than a dinner plate can help keep portion sizes in check. But also keep in mind that about half of your plate should be vegetables. The other half should be split evenly between meat and grains or starch.
When it comes to dessert, consider quality over quantity. It may be better to have a little bit of something unhealthy that you’re really craving, rather than mindlessly grazing on whatever’s out. Those little nibbles here and there likely add up to be as bad, or worse, for you than what you really wanted in the first place.
3. Bring A Dish
It can be hard to find diet-friendly options at potlucks and parties. And while you can’t control what other people are bringing, you can control what you bring. Why not guarantee yourself a healthy option and bring a veggie dish?
While you’re at it, consider having a healthy snack before going to a party. If you’re not very hungry when you’re there, you’re less likely to overindulge.
4. Get Out of the Kitchen
Oftentimes people congregate in the kitchen during parties. Simply moving to a room without food might help stop you from grazing.
Suggest a game of charades in the living room or strike up a conversation with someone who’s settled in another area. This time of year should be more about spending quality time with family and friends than food anyway.
5. Embrace Mistakes
We’re all human and mistakes are bound to happen. If you do end up overindulging, try to avoid guilting yourself. Guilt doesn’t change what’s happened and just makes you feel bad about yourself.
Instead, have a fall-off-the-wagon plan in place with clearly defined goals. Maybe that involves tweaking your holiday workout regimen from 3 days a week to 4, to help buffer any future overeating. Maybe it means getting in the habit of going for a walk every day after dinner. Just be sure to pick something that’s obtainable during this hectic time of year.
Remember, this time of year doesn’t have to mean overeating and weight gain. There are ways to enjoy a bit of splurging while still maintaining a healthy weight.
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