The holiday season is supposed to be a time to relax, spend time with family and friends, all while enjoying traditional meals, pastries, snacks, and drinks. However, this supposedly joyous time of year is often spent worrying and fretting about spoiling your hard fought diet gains and adding holiday weight that you will end up fighting to lose again.
Such worry has a good foundation. With a traditional Thanksgiving dinner alone, the average American chows down around 4,500 calories and ingests approximately 230 grams of fat. Other meals and late-night munching on leftovers adds to that amount.
Also, obesity studies reveal that most Americans pack on between 1 and 2 pounds of extra holiday weight gain, which many don’t tackle with a weight loss plan and end up keeping. Over the years, all those accumulated calories and stored fat can add up, causing some severe health problems later in life.
Switch to Weight Maintenance for the Holidays
Dietitians say that, with some planning, avoiding extra holiday weight gain isn’t really all that difficult. They say a dieter’s frame of mind is often self-defeating and should be adjusted for the holiday food rush.
If you’ve been dieting before the holidays, you have the tendency to want to continue seeing a drop in weight through those big family meals. However, when granny’s scrumptious pies and Aunt Mae’s delicious delights hit the table, you will probably indulge, see the scales begin to climb, and think “What the heck. I’ll hit it again the first of the year.” At this point, there is the tendency to let go in reckless abandon that causes significant weight gain.
As the holidays approach, adjust your thinking from weight loss to weight maintenance. Don’t expect to lose weight during those wonderful family visits centered on home-cooked meals and pastries, but work at keeping your present weight without gaining. This way, you can relax and enjoy a bit more and still not lose much ground.
Also, when you are contributing to those bountiful feasts, help everyone decrease their caloric intake by using healthy ingredients instead of those that are calorie heavy. Use such heart healthy foods as fat-free yogurt, low-fat milk, applesauce and light products (such as cream cheese). Those diving into your dishes won’t even notice the subtle changes and you will be helping your family and friends to keep off some of those extra holiday pounds.
Check out this list of five additional ways to avoid holiday weight gain:
1. Start by Shopping Smart
When making your holiday shopping list and filling your cart, start the road to weight maintenance by choosing healthy foods to serve during and around holiday meals. Load up on healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grain and low-fat dairy products, seafood, and lean meats. When buying packaged products, check the labels and select only those foods low in harmful fat, sugar, sodium, and calories. Instead, opt for those that are nutrient rich.
Also, add more fruits and vegetables to your dishes. These natural treats are not only full of nutrients, but they are also high in fiber that helps to fill you up. Guests will not only enjoy the richer flavors, but will also eat healthier and stay full longer, which helps to avoid extra snacking.
2. Serve Diet Friendly Appetizers
We pick up a lot of holiday weight from munching on appetizers that are generally full of calories. To avoid this, offer healthy appetizers that are light and tasty such as vegetable trays with dips of low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit cups, whole-grain crackers with olives, lean meat slices or reduced-fat cheeses, or shrimp cocktail.
3. Provide Grilled or Roasted Foods
A common dietary meat and vegetable preparation style is to grill or roast foods. Not only do these healthy cooking methods reduce calories and fat, but they also emphasize the natural flavors of the foods.
4. Create Healthy Desserts
Instead of offering desserts that are filled or topped with fattening, sugary ingredients, substitute those that are more diet friendly, or serve unexpected treats that are healthy. Pumpkin pie is still a good choice for traditional holiday meals as long as you use non-fat evaporated milk and fat-free whipped topping.
You can find numerous healthy desserts to delight your family and friends by searching for dietary dessert ideas online. You’ll be amazed at how many delicious desserts you can create from such sources.
5. Be Choosy and Wait
The previous four tips are for those who are preparing holiday meals. However, many of you may be on the receiving end of traditional treats. If this is you, adhere to the following advice.
When appetizers, meals, and desserts are served, scan the bounty and select the healthiest choices. Then, consume only small portions and wait at least 20 minutes before returning for more. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to register that we have eaten and to decide if we are truly full or not. By eating small portions and then waiting for the brain to analyze the intake, you may find that you are satisfactorily full and avoid unnecessary gorging.
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed so if you happen to over-indulge a bit through the holidays, don’t beat yourself up. Follow these diet-smart tips, try to avoid that nagging holiday weight gain, and maintain your previous diet foothold. You can then resume your weight loss diet at the first of the year when you have that New Year’s resolution energy to spark you forward.