Festivities abound in the holiday season, and nobody wants to be on a diet. But with a little planning, you can enjoy the holidays and keep svelte, through all the sugar-cured ham and whiskey-infused eggnog. We know it can be difficult, so here are ten tips to help keep you slender this year.
1. Have a Plan
Setting goals for yourself will make it easier to stay on track. Eating and exercising consciously will help keep out the empty calories. Apps such as MyFitnessPal allow you to set food goals, as well as track the food you’ve eaten and the exercise you’ve done. If you don’t use apps, a simple pen and paper will do the trick.
2. Portion your Food
Don’t deny yourself that piece of pumpkin pie or cheesecake for dessert. Just remember, you don’t need a huge piece to satisfy your craving. Regulating portion sizes is a smart lifestyle choice, while having an unrealistic diet will only make you want to quit. Choose foods you really like and stay within a portion size. Your taste buds and your waistline will both thank you for it.
3. Take the Focus off the Food
Of course, the holidays are about food. But they are also about family and friends, good conversations and the joy of being together. Plan a fun evening out ice skating, an energetic game of charades, or if the weather permits, a tag football playoff with the family. Taking the focus off the food might actually be fun and get everyone some exercise in the process.
4. Chew Gum
Stuck in the kitchen all day with those delicious smells? Chew gum to keep yourself from sampling freely. Make sure the gum is sugar-free.
5. Eat Slowly
When you do finally sit down for that big meal, eat slowly and savor each bite. Don’t fill up your plate – there are always leftovers! Slowing down the eating process will assure you know when you are full and prevent against overeating.
6. Deal with Leftovers
The inevitable hordes of leftovers from every holiday meal don’t have to be eaten immediately or go to waste. Most leftovers can be portioned and frozen for eating at a later date. Many can also be paired with healthier foods for a next-day low calorie meal.
7. Drink Responsibly
Everyone loves a merry holiday drink, but many of them are chock full of sugar and calories. By all means, have your favorite drink, but remember a few things. Alcoholic beverages often have many more calories than non-alcoholic. Wine and light beers usually have fewer calories than sugary liquor drinks. If you must partake in a few unhealthy libations, space them out by having a glass of seltzer water in between each one.
8. Don’t Stop Exercising
Even if you just do it for 15 to 30 minutes a day, don’t stop exercising during the holidays. Keeping your exercise habits in check will make it easier to shed those extra pounds you might gain from all the food.
9. Pack Snacks for Shopping
Food companies kick into high gear for holiday advertising, and there’s nothing more tempting than a sugary holiday coffee or hot chocolate when you’re out shopping. To resist those enticements, pack a few healthy snacks and a to-go cup. Nothing can ruin a daily diet like a 700-calorie snack food or beverage. If you know you’re going to end up getting one, plan for it by having fewer calories or by doing a little bit more exercise that day.
10. Don’t Give Up
It has happened to the best of us. We’re moving along, everything going as planned with our diet, when we overeat at a meal with friends or family. But one meal, or even a bad day, doesn’t have to dictate the next few months. Don’t give up on your diet or exercise plan. Remember, as long as you keep trying, you haven’t failed.