‘Tis the season for merriment, celebrating, and complete overindulgence. All of a sudden, your typically healthy diet morphs into one based predominantly on candy, cheese, fatty meats, and pastries thanks to an abundance of holiday parties. Packing on the pounds seems inevitable.
In order to avoid the creep of holiday pounds, you need some strategies. These 11 simple tips will help you keep your figure through the year’s end without losing your mind.
1. Avoid skipping meals
Opting out of breakfast or lunch seems like a good way to reduce calories leading up to a holiday party complete with a buffet and tasty treats. The idea is you have more wiggle room since you reduced your consumption earlier in the day, yet this strategy rarely pays off. If you show up famished, you’ll wind up eating far more than you normally would.
And keep in mind, most of the eats at these get-togethers are very high in calories and low in nutrients that keep you full. A bowl of oatmeal earlier in the day will do a lot more to keep you satisfied than one measly cookie.
2. Socialize with your friends at parties
Food plays such a huge role in celebrations, it can be easy to forget why you’re even celebrating. Chances are good a few friends, or at least colleagues you generally like, will be at every gathering you attend. Instead of spending all your time at the buffet table or next to the bar, mingle with your peers. Talk to them, engage, laugh, and enjoy their company. Many of us eat out of boredom, so you’re a lot less likely to overdo it if you’re actually having a good time.
3. Start your day with a workout
Your calendar probably looks as decorative as a Christmas tree thanks to so many parties and other events. Such a packed schedule often means regular workouts become infrequent workouts. Fight back with a morning sweat session, even if it means waking up a little bit earlier. It’s the easiest way to make sure you stay active without cutting into social events.
Even if it was a fluke, sweating out some calories is still going to help keep you on track. Try going for a run, hitting the stationary bike, or a circuit.
4. Don’t try to shed pounds during the holiday season
Even if you’re working toward a weight-loss goal, give yourself a little bit of a break during the season of all things butter and sugar. Keep your focus on maintaining rather than shedding pounds or you’ll make yourself crazy. Even the most organized person will probably run into a situation or two where they doesn’t have the option to eat something nutritious. A busy day at the office might mean dinner ends up being some passed appetizers and a cookie at your office party. No worries, just get back on track the next day.
5. Tank up on water
Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly and it could also keep you from overeating. Those who know they head to the food when they get bored should grab a glass of water instead. It gives you something to do the same way a pile of snacks does without the additional calories.
Feeling hungry? Drink some water first. The desire to eat may evaporate after downing a tall glass of H2O.
6. Embrace the crudité platter
Cookies and salty snacks disappear from the buffet table at a rapid pace while the crudité tray remains untouched in the corner. Embrace the veggie platter. The veggie platter is your friend. It’s the only real opportunity to load up on fiber and other important nutrients. Stock you plate with as many veggies as you’d like, keeping the fatty dip to a minimum. Filling your belly with produce will leave a lot less room for the unhealthy stuff. It’s the same idea of starting a meal with soup or salad, a strategy many nutrition experts recommend to avoid overeating.
7. Choose your indulgences wisely
If your mom makes the best holiday cake in the world, you should absolutely have that cake. Skip the other treats you don’t care much about, and allow yourself to enjoy something you really love. Those with a serious sweet tooth might have trouble saying no to trying multiple goodies, but they can still be smart about it. Fill one plate with a selection of treats, then split it with a bunch of friends. You’ll end up with just a bite or two of each dessert, which is just right for a little bit of an indulgence.
8. Pick drinks with more alcohol and less sugar
This doesn’t mean chug a bottle of Everclear, but it does mean choose wisely. When it comes to picking your poison, sugary drinks like margaritas will have double or triple the amount of calories of whiskey or tequila. So, pick drinks with a higher alcohol-to-calorie ratio.
You can never go wrong with liquor, red or white wine, champagne, or light beer, according to Thrillist. If you’re curious which alcohols are best, check out this list here, and choose from anything with a B-rating or higher to stay on the safe side.
9. Snack the smart way
If you wait until you’re famished to eat something, you’re more likely to overeat and consume something that isn’t healthy. Men’s Fitness explains that a great way to avoid this is by keeping healthy snacks in your car and at the office. Aim for high-protein foods, such as unsalted almonds or beef jerky, Men’s Fitness suggests.
Make sure that you aren’t skipping snacks as a way to cut calories, Health warns. “Snacking is an opportunity to fuel your body between meals,” nutritionist Rania Batayneh, author of The One One One Diet, told Health. Not only does snacking prevent you from overeating later in the day, but munching on nutritious snacks also keeps your metabolism revved up. Women’s Health recommends eating two 200-calorie snacks a day, one between breakfast and lunch and one between lunch and dinner.
10. Don’t rely too much on comfort foods
Cold weather often causes many of us to crave hearty and filling comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese, chili, and pot pies. By lightening up your favorites, you can enjoy the same great-tasting dishes without all of the fat and calories. The Huffington Post writes that incorporating vegetables, such as kale, mushrooms, and onions, into your meals is a great way to create filling dishes that aren’t loaded with bad-for-you foods.
When it comes to mac and cheese, you can cut calories by making a cheese swap. Use Parmesan cheese instead of American; the flavor is stronger, meaning you can use less and still get the same cheesy flavors, according to the Huffington Post. If you’re looking for another way to work veggies into your dishes, Eating Well suggests incorporating it in your pasta. To do this, near the end of your noodle’s cooking time, add vegetables to the boiling water, drain, and combine with pasta sauce.
11. Sip hot tea or water
Rather than drinking a daily mug of sugar- and calorie-riddled hot cocoa, sip hot tea or water instead. PopSugar states that one cup of peppermint tea contains zero calories, while an eight-ounce hot chocolate with whipped cream contains 183 calories. With a calorie count that high, it’s best to view hot chocolate as an occasional indulgence instead of a daily drink.
Shape adds that around 75% of Americans may be chronically dehydrated, which many of us mistake for hunger. By sipping water or tea throughout the day, you’re ensuring that you never misinterpret thirst for hunger again. Web MD notes that, on average, you should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids every day. If you are sick, pregnant, or breast-feeding, or have just participated in an intense sweat session, you will need to up your water intake, explains Web MD.