Maintaining your weight during the holidays isn’t just a great achievement—it’s a realistic goal.
Short of heading for a deserted island between Christmas and New Years, what’s the game plan for staying on a diet during the holidays? The game plan never changes. That’s why it works. Any time, in any place you face food, there is a way to negotiate an option.
A recent study by the Medical University of South Carolina and the National Institutes of Health showed that the typical holiday weight gain was little more than a pound, far less than expected. The researchers concluded that the 5-plus pounds people expect to gain is a myth.
But watch out–research indicates trends, not specifics, so if you use the holidays as an excuse, you could be the 5-pound exception rather than the one-pound rule. Plus, the researchers noted that even a small holiday weight gain could become a problem if it wasn’t lost. If it accumulated year after year, it would be 10 pounds in a decade, enough to account for “middle-age spread.”
The holidays are tough. You may not lose as rapidly during them but you most definitely shouldn’t gain. Here’s how to avoid it:
If you host the party:
- Serve some lower-calorie choices along with traditional dishes.
- Modify traditional recipes so they have fewer calories.
- Chew gum or plan a good-for-you nibble while you cook or bake.
- Give calories away — send your guests home with goody bags.
If you’re a guest:
- Have a piece of fruit to before you go out, to blunt your appetite.
- If you’re looking forward to a certain holiday food, plan around it.
- Eat lighter before the party or exercise more.
- Alternate drinks. Have one alcoholic or calorie-dense drink, like eggnog, followed by two no-calorie drinks like diet soda or sparkling water with a twist.
- Dilute alcohol for more fluid and fewer calories per serving.
- Don’t stand near the food and bar.
- Keep a beverage in one hand. It will be hard to hold a plate and eat with the other.
- Eat fewer fried and cheesy hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy shrimp cocktail and fruits and veggies.
- Eat light at the meals before a party–but don’t fast, or you’ll feast.
- Exercise more the day before and after a holiday event.
- Survey the whole buffet table once, than get on line and be choosy.
- Want pie for dessert? Eat the filling, leave the calorie-dense crust. Pumpkin pie is such a healthy choice it can count toward your 5-a-day fruits and veggies.
- Enjoy every meal, just don’t super-size it.