If the Halloween candy and Thanksgiving feasting have left you feeling guilty and your pants a little tight, it’s not too late to rein in the holiday season eating.
With a little awareness, a committed attitude and a few tips, you can celebrate the holidays without compromising your waistline.
“If you don’t want to gain weight over the holidays, you can do a little planning,” says registered dietitian Carol Peotter of Riverside Medical Center “The holidays probably aren’t the best time to try and lose weight, but maintaining your weight can be a realistic goal.”
Too often, people use holiday busyness and their long list of errands and get-togethers as excuses not to exercise, says Peotter.
“Even if you don’t have time to make it to the gym, there are other ways to keep active,” she said. “No matter where you are, you can always go for a walk, so bring your exercise shoes.”
Rather than circling the mall parking lot in search of a spot closest to the entrance, park at the end of the lot and enjoy the walk. Skip the elevator and use the stairs. Take a brisk walk before that big holiday meal. Exercise is relaxing and can decrease your sense of hunger, she added.
When it comes to the holiday party circuit, cookie exchanges and office buffets, Peotter’s best piece of advice can’t be overstated: portion control.
“It’s all too easy to overeat by returning to the buffet for another bite of food,” she said. “Rather than sampling everything, survey the food and be selective about how you want to spend your calories. Dedicate half of your plate to fruits and vegetables.”
Here are some other tips Peotter offers to keep holiday eating and cooking healthy:
? Reconsider second helpings: Pay attention to your body’s hunger cues and stop eating when you feel full. If you arrive at a holiday party ravenously hungry, you are more likely to overeat. Eat a piece of fruit prior to the gathering.
? Drink wisely: Calories aside, if you drink too much alcohol, it’s harder to stay in control of what you eat. Skip the eggnog; it’s high in calories and saturated fat. Just one cup with a shot of alcohol adds up to more than 400 calories.
? Healthier baking: If you’re baking, try these substitutes. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, use 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour, a 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour, and 1 cup regular flour. It won’t change the taste, but it will add protein and a complex carbohydrate to your treat.
? Skim down on fat: Instead of using fat in a recipe, try substituting with applesauce, pureed pumpkin, or yogurt. Olive oil, which is rich in heart-healthy omega-9 fats, can be used in lieu of butter for baking.
? When making gravy from meat drippings, pour them into a container and put it in
the refrigerator for a few minutes. The fat will separate quickly, making it easy
to skim off.
? Eat your favorite high-fat food in small servings and savor the flavor in your mouth.