Who can resist the yummy holiday spread at the company lunch or the delicious appetizers at neighborhood gatherings?
Oh, the desserts at the cookie-exchanges and other festivities! For many of us, watching what we eat goes straight up the chimney during the holiday season, and our waistlines suffer the consequences long into the new year. Unfortunately, overindulging and adding a few pounds in November or December can make it doubly hard to get back on track with healthy routines.
Don’t despair! With a little strategy, it’s quite possible to remain in control of how you eat even when you’re the guest at a holiday party. Try these tips when you join family and friends for holiday celebartions:
- Aim to eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day -- more if you can. If you make sure to fill up on your low-calorie fruit and vegetable servings for the day, it will help you avoid overeating the starches (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) and meats.
- Never go to a party hungry. Small frequent meals (at least three) are a good way to keep yourself satisfied. If you go to a party hungry, you are more likely to eat too much.
- When going to a party, if possible try to plan ahead and suggest to the hostess that you will bring a low-calorie dish to help keep yourself (and others) on track.
- At a buffet-style gathering, try filling your plate only once with a reasonable, healthy portion of food. This will keep you from absent-mindedly eating bite after bite, losing track of the total amount of food.
- Stand away from the food table and focus on socializing. If the food’s not in arm’s reach, you’ll be less tempted.
- Limit alcohol. Moderation (one drink for women, two drinks for men) can be part of a healthy diet, but alcohol also provides extra calories and interferes with your ability to keep tabs on your food intake. You’ll drink and eat more calories than you mean to eat. If you do choose to drink alcohol, beer and wine generally are lower in calories than liqueur mixed with soda or fruit juices. Wondering about red wine and your heart? Check out Should I Drink Red Wine for Heart Health?
One more tip, not so much about what you’re eating, but rather about how to burn the calories from those tempting treats you couldn’t resist: keep moving. Make a more conscious effort to be physically active during the holidays. If you keep moving during the holidays, it will be easier to enjoy a few holiday treats without paying for it later with extra pounds to lose.
Staying Home? Heart-Healthy Tips Work There, Too
At the holidays and all year 'round, there are strategies you can try to protect your heart health. Here are a few: