It's that time of year again. The holidays are upon us. From Thanksgiving to New Year's and beyond, it can be difficult to stick to any diet and exercise plan.More >>
From Thanksgiving to New Year's and beyond, it can be difficult to stick to any diet and exercise plan with plates of holiday goodies floating around. But not to worry. It is possible to cheat and not pay for it later.More >>
How to Enjoy the Holidays and Not Blow Your Diet
Ah Fall… the leaves change, the weather cools, hearts and minds turn to fond memories of time spent with family and friends… and the Eating Frenzy begins.
It starts out innocently enough – a few little treats from the kids’ Halloween bags, or maybe just one cupcake from the batch you made for the class Halloween party. (you know, the one where the frosting got a little smushed?) Then maybe there’s the Halloween Happy Hour at work. A few wings, a couple of glasses of wine. Wine’s good for your heart, isn't it? Still and all, Halloween is only one day, so why not indulge?
Then comes the onslaught, what we generally term “The Holidays”, that lengthy period of celebration that begins somewhere toward the end of November and lasts until after New Year’s. Parties, gatherings, potlucks, family feasts… all centered on one thing: FOOD.
Whether your vice is sweets or junk food, cocktail finger foods or giant turkey dinners, eggnog or champagne cocktails, you can enjoy the holidays and still manage not to put on 15 pounds by January 1st . Here are a few tricks that we think will help.
Don't fast before the party.
Often, when we know we're going to be somewhere with lots of great food, we'll starve ourselves to prepare. Try to eat a light meal at home before you head for the buffet so you won't be tempted to throw your diet plans away.
Get a plate!
One of the biggest mistakes we make in party-eating is “grazing”. You will eat a good deal more if you snack as you go along. Fill a plate and enjoy it, but when you're done, be done. Also—it helps not to hang out next to the food. Find a comfortable spot away from the buffet table. Your temptation level will reduce significantly.
Make good choices.
Raw veggies and fruits are a freebie – you can have as many as you want (no, that sentiment does not include the Ranch dressing or the whipped cream on the side).
Avoid crackers – they're full of carbs that convert straight to sugar. If you want the cheese, go for it, but skip the cracker.
Roasted meats are a great option, when not covered in gravy or mayonnaise.
Nuts, in moderation, are a great source of protein. Yes, they contain fat, but if you want a salty, crunchy snack, choose nuts over chips every time.
You know that anything deep-fried is bad. Try to find an alternative.
Also – if you're doing the cooking there are LOTS of great low fat & low calorie recipes out there that taste fantastic! (Cooking Light magazine is my favorite source.)
Life’s too short to eat bad fruitcake.
Okay, you know what food are bad for you. So does that mean you can't touch a mozzarella stick? Can't try Aunt Fannie’s famous fudge? Of course not! Find your favorites and enjoy them, but choose wisely. If Aunt Fannie’s fudge isn't all it’s cracked up to be after the first bite, don't finish it. My mother won't be happy to read this, but it’s okay NOT to clean your plate. Survey the food and indulge in the things that really make you happy. Then savor them. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite.
Alcohol is really fattening. Period. This is not to say you can't enjoy a bit of Holiday Cheer, however, as with all treats – be selective. I live by the rule, “Never drink cheap wine.” If you're going to blow hundreds of calories, do it on something you really enjoy. (Maybe you like cheap wine… that’s your call.)
Drink plenty of water or seltzer. Water is a great cleansing agent, helping you process your food. Also it will fill you up, and keep your hands occupied. With a glass of water in your hand you will be less likely to reach for snacks.
Chef’s dilemma – to taste or not to taste?
If you're the cook in the family, you face a unique challenge: how to prepare the food and not eat your weight in it before the meal is actually served. Of course you need to sample the gravy to make sure it’s spiced right. Absolutely, you need to check the eggnog to make sure there isn't too much rum in it. But there are a few things that will save you ample calories:
*Cookie dough batter – one spoonful is the same as eating a cookie. Trust your recipe – don't eat it.
*Prepping for the cocktail party – just because a cheese cube is a little uneven, doesn't mean you need to eat it.
*Hmmm… this hors d'oeuvre doesn't fit on the plate. It still contains calories. Wait until the party to enjoy it with your guests.
*Eat before you cook. You will be less apt to pick if you're full.
The Food Court Fandango
During the holiday shopping season, you will most certainly be tempted by fattening mochaccinos, fried potato wedges, butter-dipped pretzels, and giant cookies. Eat at home before you go shopping to avoid these diet-busting treats. And if you have a marathon shopping day ahead, throw a low-fat snack in your purse!
Exercise -- don't wait for the New Year’s resolution!
Maintaining your regular exercise routine, or even starting a new one will go a long way to keeping your trim figure throughout the holiday season!