Holiday Survival 101: Protecting Your Waistline During the Holidays
HealthCentral Editorial Team Sep 27, 2012 (updated Oct 9, 2013)
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Yes! You can make it through the holiday season or any other season without losing your health (or your sanity). Follow these simple steps for a happy and very healthy season.
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Be a picky eater
It's the holidays, you know that there will be sweets and treats around every turn, in the office, at the grocery store, in a friend's kitchen. Be prepared and remember that you do not have to try everything. In fact, you don't have to try most of the indulgences offered to you. Pick and chose your holiday treats and only try the treats you really want.
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Just say no (to alcohol)
Alcoholic drinks are hot beds for hidden calories, calories that are stored in your body very quickly. Alcohol can also lower your inhibitions and will power causing you to eat more than you would sober. If you do drink during the holidays, do so in moderation to save yourself the calories (and the headaches).
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Maintain healthy cooking techniques
There are plenty of ways to prepare your favorite dishes and treats with less calories and fat and maintain flavor. Use non-stick cooking spray, plan healthier meals, use skim milk, don't forget protein and season with herbs and spices rather than gravies and sauces.
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Beware of high calorie drinks
There are plenty of high calorie beverages out there that can sneak their way into your daily diet during the holiday season. Think: egg nog, hot chocolate, holiday punch and so on. Then there are the usual culprits of full calorie sodas and sports drinks. These drinks have hundreds of extra calories and can be consumed without a second thought. Don't forget to count the calories you drink.
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Be realistic and stay the course
You can set all the goals you'd like, but chances are there will be a night or two when you overindulge. When this happens, you will be tempted to throw in the towel on your whole diet. Do not do this! Reaffirm your resolve the next morning, get some exercise and some fresh air and try again. Take it easy on yourself.
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Never go to a party hungry
You know you have a big party in the evening and the temptation will be to over eat. Do not "save room" for the food at the party because arriving. An empty stomach will only heighten your risk of overeating. Instead, eat normally throughout the day and eat a small, healthy snack before you leave for the event. You will be less tempted to indulge in everything in sight and be more discerning about what you do sample.
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Easy on the hors d'oeurves
It is tempting, but do not load up on finger food at a party that will include dinner. Many of these foods, while small, can be very calorie-dense and are easily eaten because they are so small. Save your calories for the main course.
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Use a small plate
If you are attending a party with a buffet, skip the large-sized plates and instead take the plate from the dessert table. You are less likely to dish out large portions for yourself if the plate is smaller. Using the small plate, fill the space you have with vegetable and protein rather than carb- and sugar-based foods.
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Balance your party fare
When you do fill up your small-sized plate, fill it with an equal balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Once, your plate is filled with the foods you need, pick just one or two less-healthy treats. Just because you are at a party does not mean your body does not need to nutrition balance that you usually give it.
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Butter, sauces, gravies and salad dressings are all high in calories and easy to over-do. Step away from the extra calories and instead flavor your food with herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon or lime.
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The best favor you can do yourself during the holiday season or any other season is to take some time to yourself to be active. Take a walk, go for a swim or a run, or stretch out on the yoga mat for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Your body, your mind, your spirit, and your friends and family will all thank you for it.