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Surviving the Holidays!

Are you beginning to look a lot like Santa?

Here’s a weekly plan of willpower that will leave you worry free about your waist line.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but holiday weight gain has become as much a tradition as a fruitcake. And, not to be the Grinch who stole Christmas, but it needs to be asked: Since when did Christmas, a time of giving, turn into a time of gorging? Studies with staggering results show the average person packs on between one and seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — something people may not think of when they’re loading up their plate for seconds at the dinner table.

No matter how many pounds you packed on last year, it’s never to late to begin building body confidence and exerting a little willpower. Holidays bring family and friends together to celebrate traditions and spread good cheer. They also bring lots of opportunities for socializing, eating and drinking. Even the most disciplined people struggle with temptation during the holiday season. To navigate the party landmines with your healthy diet intact, you need a strategy.

Experts agree: Having a plan in place will help you handle night after night of festive eating and drinking. This year, resolve to shake off the pounds of Christmases past, indulge in family festivities and forgo the fattening food. Instead focus on family and friends and not the food. With a little effort and these eating strategies, you’ll keep the weight gain at bay and avoid those pesky, unwanted pounds.

1. Deck The Halls.

Go all out and deck the halls with boughs of holly, glitter and lights, but when it comes to holiday food,trim back the trimmings. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter and whipped cream — additions that don't add much to the meal but can add plenty to your waistline. Trim calories wherever you can so you leave the party feeling satisfied, but not stuffed, recommends Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD, author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous.

2. Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.

One of the most effective ways to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained aerobic activity. To burn off extra calories, kick up your exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes. If you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week. Christmas shopping can be an optimal time to go for a walk. Make a few more rounds in and out of the stores. Whatever you do, keep moving.

3. A Wonderful Christmas Time.

While you can’t control every situation, you can control how much food goes into your mouth. If you are constantly bombarded with holiday parties and displays of desserts or candies, you can still effectively help prevent overeating and weight gain. One way is the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren’t confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day — but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the next day.

4. A Grown-up Christmas List.

Make sure you eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When compared to other snack foods like chips, crackers and cookies, gram for gram, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients. The fiber in fruits and vegetables fill you up faster than traditional snack foods. So add it to the shopping list and pack your refrigerator with bags of cut-up vegetables and whole or cut-up fruits. Grab a bag while on the go or at work. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll eat your five-a-day before you snack on any cookies or other holiday treats. You’re sure to take in fewer calories overall.

5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. Most importantly, don’t stand around the food table when you are at a party — focus your energies on making conversation with others instead of focusing on the food selection. Conversation is calorie-free.

6. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, says take the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties. Think horseshoes, badminton, sledding, ice skating or building snowmen. When indoors, try a spirited game of charades or rent an instructional dance video followed by a dance-off. According to dietbites.com, for every 15 minutes of dancing, a 150-pound individual may burn 86 calories and a 170-pound person may burn 97 calories.

7. Eat Right.

For one reason or another, the closer Christmas is, the easier it is to forget basic healthy ways of eating, such as regular daily meals. As the pace of the holidays pick up, eating a well-rounded meal is often the last on the list. “People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, author of Diet Simple. “Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint.” Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack or salad shortly before the event. And don’t skip meals. Here are a few heart healthy meal ideas. Feel free to change it according to your dietary needs.

Article Reviewed: December 1, 2014
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

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