10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Overeating
Celebrate all you want—without gaining a pound!
`Tis the season…for cookies, egg nog, hors d’oeuvres, stuffing, potato latkes, and prime rib. You get the picture: The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most fattening. Some recent studies show that the average person gains about one pound over the holiday season—and that’s not to be taken lightly. “Although one pound doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, it’s a pound that could push a person into overweight or obesity, because many don’t make an effort to lose the weight over the year,” says registered dietician Susan Burke March. We asked March, the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally, for advice on healthy eating habits over the holidays. Keep these tips in mind, and you won’t have to make a New Year’s resolution to lose the weight you just gained.
1. Don’t arrive hungry at holiday gatherings.
“Have a plan,” March urges. “Instead of eating less the day of a holiday feast, eat breakfast, lunch, and a snack, such as an apple and a cup of yogurt.” That way, you’ll be less likely to stampede the buffet table. Once you arrive at the party, feel free to indulge—within moderation. “If you want a taste of a fatty food, such as cheese, gravy or fried foods, then take just a taste and be satisfied with that,” March advises.
2. If you’re hosting a party, go easy on the butter.
Fat calories can really add up at the holiday table. But that doesn’t mean your loved ones have to subsist on tofurkey and sprouts; just make a few changes to the classics. March suggests basting the holiday bird in orange juice, rather than butter; using low-fat dairy products; and replacing half the oil in cookie and cake recipes with applesauce or pureed fruit. You can experiment with other ingredient swaps as well. “Don’t sacrifice flavor, but do review your recipes with a fresh eye,” she says.
3. Limit, or eliminate, the booze.
High-calorie alcohol doesn’t just lead to embarrassing incidents at the office holiday party—it can also increase your girth. To help limit your consumption, “start the evening with a glass of water, and end the evening with one, too,” March advises. If you do drink, she adds, steer clear of the most sugar- and calorie-laden options—such as “colada-type” cocktails and alcoholic punches.
4. Beware the buffet table.
Don’t tempt yourself by hanging out next to the food. Circulating at a party is not only more fun than staying in one place, it will keep that fresh-from-the-oven tray of pigs in blankets safely out of sight. At parties, March likes to “circle around, find some cocktail shrimp or otherwise healthier option, and enjoy myself. I carry a wine glass full of club soda and lime, and keep sipping.” You can always head to the ladies’ room, or outside for some fresh air, if temptation becomes too great.