Sunday, December 18, 2011

Surviving the Holidays


This week is going to be ridiculously busy. First, we're in the middle of moving into a new home. At the same time, I've yet to finish my gift shopping for the holidays. I also need to start packing for my trip back home to Chicago. We'll be spending an entire week there, so I'll likely need a lot of bulky sweaters and pea coats to deal with those frosty temperatures. And finally, work has been cuh-razy lately!! As in, working from about 8 am to 8 pm. How does one find the time to squeeze it all in? Yet, despite the massive amounts of work that I have to wade through over the next few days, I'm in good spirits. Only a few more days of work before I'm on vacation until 2012. YAY!

I heart December. From the holiday music and decorated houses to Christmas movies on the telly and gingerbread lattes at Starbucks, it all makes me happy! And if you're like me, you've also been dealing with a full schedule of holiday parties. We had several last week and a few more coming up, which will include "white elephant" gifts, festive cocktails, rich snacks, sweet treats and more. So how does one avoid piling on the pounds when so much egg nog and fudge is around? Here are a few tips to surviving the holiday season with minimal weight gain.

* Don't show up hungry. Take time to eat a light, healthy snack before hitting the big holiday party food spread. A small salad, slice of cheese or cup of soup will help stave off hunger pangs. That way, you’re less likely to chow down later. Try choosing foods that are lower in calories or high in fiber – make sure to eat small portions of fruits and veggies throughout the day. That way, you won’t feel famished by the time you reach the party, but will still have some extra wiggle room (calorie wise) in order to opt for that special holiday treat.
* When fixing your plate, make sure the bulk of it is fruits and veggies. That way you can fill up your belly faster with healthier items.
* Eating smaller portions is key. Yes, you can indulge in some gingerbread. Just don't eat the entire loaf.
* If you're eating dinner at a friend or relative's house, bring some low-calorie snack options such as a fruit salad or raw veggies and hummus.
* If you're handling the cooking, avoid adding lots of butter, salt and fatty dressings. Create healthier versions of favorite baked goods by using fat-free milk instead of whole milk and applesauce in place of oil. Sweeten your beverage, casserole or dessert with a low-calorie sweetener such as sucralose. To thicken a liquid without adding fat, use one of the following: flour, cornstarch, potato flakes, yogurt or fat-free evaporated milk. And remember, many holiday favorites are packed with nutrients. Sweet potatoes supply potassium and fiber and are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin A, cranberries are high in vitamin C and dried fruit and turkey can also be nutritious options.
* Try not to get seconds until a few hours after you've eaten the first plate.
* Always eat dessert last.
* Drink lots of water. It will help fill you up. And remember that every fruit drink, soda, glass of wine, pint of beer and sweetened coffee comes bearing calories. This is not to say you have to give up all your favorite beverages to prevent packing on the pounds. All foods and beverages can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan. You can save calories, for example, by drinking sucralose-sweetened products such as light lemonade or diet soda.
* Take a walk after supper or get in a morning or afternoon workout before arriving to the party. By sneaking in extra physical activity every day, you are more likely to keep that waistline trim.

Remember, the holidays are a time for spending time with family and friends. You don’t have to deprive yourself to prevent weight gain. With a few simple steps you can maintain your weight while celebrating the season.

For more sensible holiday eating tips, visit the recipe section of www.caloriecontrol.org.

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