Holidays are for creating wonderful memories with family and friends. The smell of turkey in the oven, casseroles, and fresh baked cookies, are part of what makes the holidays special. Family gatherings, meals, and parties, are often surrounded with high calorie food and drinks that can lead to over indulgence and a few extra pounds this season. However, you can enjoy the holidays and avoid weight gain by simply paying attention to your food choices, and finding time to fit exercise into your busy schedule. So go ahead and grab a piece of pecan pie or have a glass of eggnog without the guilt by following these guidelines.
1. If you are attending a holiday party make sure to snack on healthy veggies and fruit so that you won’t be starving when you get to the party. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, select wine or beer, which are typically lower calorie choices than cocktails with high calorie mixers. Also, drink a glass of water after drinking an alcoholic beverage to keep you hydrated and less likely to over indulge.
2. Eat light the day of the event and save your calories for the big meal. Eat a small breakfast the morning of your big feast and snack on veggies and fresh fruit throughout the day. A protein smoothie is a good choice to help satisfy your appetite and help you avoid overeating.
3. Make plans to exercise the day of your party or holiday meal. Go for an early walk or run the morning of the event to help jump start your metabolism and burn some extra calories. Just thirty minutes of exercise can burn enough calories to help offset a piece of cake, pecan pie or a holiday beverage. If you normally eat a 300 to 400 calorie breakfast, cut the calories and have a low calorie shake instead on the day of the event. Also, if you add an hour of exercise that morning, you could burn 500 calories or more to help you earn two pieces of dessert or two glasses of holiday cheer.
4. Indulge in your favorite dishes, but limit your serving size of casseroles and desserts. Casseroles are typically loaded with calories from cheese and sauces. If you decide on a casserole or dessert, stay with one small serving to keep your calories under control. Fill up on turkey which is a healthy, lean protein choice and select basic side dishes. Choose a salad, steamed veggies, or a baked sweet potato, for delicious low calorie sides that will help keep your calories under control.
5. Avoid or limit alcoholic drinks during the holidays. Alcohol calories can add up quickly with most cocktails averaging around 200 calories or more per glass. One cup of eggnog can be 300 calories or higher depending on the ingredients. Therefore, careful selection of what and how much you drink is key to keeping your calories under control. If you decide to indulge in a beverage or two, select those with low calorie mixers such as club soda or a flavored liquor “on the rocks” without the mixer. Additionally, wine or light beer can be lower calorie choices and can range around 100 to 150 calories per serving.
6. Get back on track the day after the holiday feast with good food choices and exercise. If you ate too much, don’t starve yourself the next day. This can lead to over eating at the end of the day and set you up for failure. Get back on track by logging your calories in a food journal and plan to make it a part of your daily routine. Plan your workouts at the beginning of your week and put them on your calendar. Prepare healthy meal plans in advance to help you take the guesswork out of food choices during your busy week. Start to incorporate additional activity into your day, such as taking the stairs and parking further away from you destination so that you can enjoy a nice walk. Having a plan during the holidays and getting quickly back on track after the events will help you enjoy time with family and friends without the worry of extra holiday pounds.