Research studies show that most adults gain some weight over the holidays. But don’t despair — this year can be different. Here are some great ways to enjoy the holidays without adding pounds:
1. Get moving
Check with your doctor first, of course. But one of the most effective ways to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained aerobic activity. To burn off those extra calories, kick up your exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes. If you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week, and increase the intensity of your workout.
2. Eat your veggies and fruits
Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to help fill your stomach without exceeding your calorie count. Compared gram for gram with other snack foods (like chips, crackers and cookies), fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients. What’s more, the fiber in fruits and vegetables will fill you up faster than traditional snack foods.
3. Control the risk for temptation
Controlling even the slightest chance of coming in contact with “tempting” foods is one way to effectively reduce your calorie intake. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many you can. For example, do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace? Are your holiday goodies stored in well-trafficked spots like the dining room or pantry? Make a mental note to keep goodies in places that are less accessible. If you bake, keep a small amount for you and your family, then give the rest away. And if you get food as a gift, either regift it, donate it or share it with others.
4. Cheat a little, but only once a day
Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising.
5. Never go to a party hungry
Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt or a handful of raw nuts. When you arrive at the party, do not rush mindlessly to the food table to fill up on snacks. Instead, assess your hunger. Once you feel hungry, take a look at all the food that’s available. Becoming aware of all the options will help you make more mindful choices.
6. Be in charge of your party choices
Make heart-healthy choices at parties. Bring a healthy appetizer (raw veggies or homemade whole-wheat pita chips with Greek yogurt or hummus dip, corn chips & guacamole or edamame) or dessert (fat-free pudding-based dessert or fruit crisp) so you know there will at least be one healthy choice. Use smaller plates to reduce the amount of food you eat. Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings and high-fat meats (meatballs, sausage, pigs-in-blankets, fried chicken wings.) And avoid drinking too many calories.
7. Say no politely
Many times you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you. Learn to say no politely.
8. Focus on socializing, not food
Don’t stand around the food table at a party. Get out and mingle. Conversation is calorie-free! Standing is still better than sitting (burns more calories). Help clean up to burn even more calories.
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