Just say no to stretchy pants
The holiday season is officially here, which means it’s time to visit with family, eat, watch football, eat, take afternoon naps, and then eat some more. In past years you may have gorged on so much holiday food for so many days on end that you even forgot what hunger felt like. This year I propose a new plan of action, and one that doesn’t require you to pull out your stretchy sweat pants to fit your ever-expanding waistline, or worse, slip into Santa pants (anyone seen this Friend’s episode?).
So, I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to keep you from packing on that extra pound or two over the holidays (which is one less to lose for your New Year’s resolution right), and a few tasty recipes that your friends and family won’t even realize are healthier–mine didn’t.
1. Don’t starve yourself
If you know you’re having a holiday dinner, don’t skip breakfast and lunch. Starving yourself all day will only increase your odds of over-indulging at dinner. Instead, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, and then allow yourself one plate of everything delicious at dinner, and maybe even go back for a second helping of that one favorite side item. On a regular day you wouldn’t allow yourself to eat three plates of food, and the holidays shouldn’t be any different.
2. Keep your expectations reasonable
Let’s face it, it’s unrealistic to think you can be around platters and platters of delicious sweet potato casserole and not eat at least some of it (seriously, how good is sweet potato casserole?) Don’t get yourself down when you can’t resist your favorite treat–but also don’t go overboard. Just remember that keeping your meal patterns and amounts as normal as possible will help keep you on track to maintain your weight through this food-filled season, because losing weight over the holidays can be next to impossible.
3. Maintain your regular exercise routine
If you normally run five days a week January through October, don’t stop running November through December. It’s a very busy time of year, but most bigger cities usually have some sort of Thanksgiving morning 5k, which is a great time to walk/run with your family. At the very least, you can feel a bit less guilty about eating the over-sized piece of pie after dinner. And according to this study, people who stay active over the holidays gain less weight.
4. Don’t snack on holiday treats at the office
Candy and cookies are everywhere this time of year, and though it may seem like those little bite-size treats are calling you out by name every time you walk by, resist temptation. Allow yourself one small piece a day, and then use that self-control the rest of the day. Most bite-sized candy bars have between fifty to ninety calories, so you may think a few won’t hurt, but you can easily rack up an extra 500 calories a day just by stopping by the holiday candy bowl a few times.
5. Focus on friends and family
Remember that the holiday season is about visiting with family and friends, which is hard to do when you are lying on a couch somewhere in a food coma. Keeping the true meaning of the holidays in your mind can help deter you from that second (or third) plate of food, and keep you from feeling sluggish the rest of the day.
Now for your family get-togethers, here are a few recipes I’ve adapted.