10 Delicious Tricks to Outsmart Your Holiday Weight Gain
The holidays are fantastic for your taste buds, but they’re murder on your waistline. All the hours you spent sculpting your summer bod in the gym have gone to pot by New Year’s Eve. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little forethought, planning, and restraint, you won’t have to resign yourself to a Santa-style body come Christmas. We’ve schemed up 10 delicious tricks to outsmart your holiday weight gain. Don’t give up — or gain a pound — this holiday season. You can still satisfy your cravings and stay slim.
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When you’re dehydrated, you’re more prone to overeat. And by the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Make sure you have a water bottle with you at all times and sip from it throughout the day. Before staring down the holiday party buffet, drink one big glass of water to help fill up your stomach. Skip sodas, even the diet ones, which can dry you out and leave you craving sugar. If you need an after-dinner drink, try hot water with lemon or a cup of caffeine-free tea instead of an alcoholic nightcap or high-calorie cup of eggnog.
Eat regular meals.
The worst thing you can do for your body during the holidays is try to fast between big holiday meals. You’ll set yourself up to binge on all the wrong foods. Instead, make sure you stick to a meal schedule. Have a protein-hearty breakfast (like eggs), a light lunch (like grilled chicken on salad), and an afternoon snack with a little protein (like an apple with peanut butter or some nuts and string cheese). An empty stomach is no one's friend.
Snack on as much of the good stuff as you want.
And by “good stuff” we mean the healthy food. If you’re in the mood to eat for sport, not because you’re hungry, binge on the foods that do the least damage. Load up on crudités with hummus or sliced fruit. Throw in a few nuts or olives if you must. Just stay away from the chips, heavy dips, and anything in a Crock Pot.
Balance your plate.
No, not on your head. We mean make sure your plate has a protein, a starch, and a vegetable or fruit on it. Then let yourself have one wild card item, whether it’s a scoop of your aunt’s famous cheesy scalloped potatoes or a small slice of pecan pie. Do not go back for seconds.
Indulge in booze or dessert, not both.
Alcohol and sweets have one thing in common: bad carbs. These empty calories provide zero nutrition and only add to your growing waistline. So at every party you attend, decide: which will you splurge on? A sugary cocktail or a couple of Christmas cookies? You can’t have it all in one night, but you can have one cheat food or beverage at each gathering.
Mindfulness is key in keeping overeating under control. The holidays can feel rushed and stressful, causing us to cram food down our throats without actually checking in to see if we’re hungry. Whenever possible, sit down while you eat, preferably at a table. Take a deep breath before your first bite. Focus on the sights, smells, tastes, and mouthfeel of your food. Chew slowly. Keep distractions to a minimum – no checking Twitter or Googling that movie someone just mentioned while you eat. The slower you go, the fewer calories you'll consume while feeling more comfortably satisfied.
If your family thinks Crisco is a food group, plan ahead and bring a healthy dish to share. That way you’ll know there’s at least one thing you can eat guilt-free.
Winter is no excuse for sitting on the couch accumulating fat. Now is the most important time to be intentional and aggressive in your fitness efforts because colder weather means you move around less anyway. Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise in, even if that means just walking around the neighborhood after dinner. If you already have a workout regimen, now is the time to kick it up a notch to compensate for all the holiday gorging you’ll partake in. Make sure to combine cardio with weight training to maximize the calorie- and fat-burning benefits.
No one likes stepping on the scale, but if you’re serious about maintaining your weight during the holidays, you have to hold yourself accountable. Weigh yourself once a week (more often can be nerve-wracking and less often will make it harder to make adjustments if you’ve gone off the rails). Use the same scale at the same time and place every week, like at the gym first thing on Friday morning. If the numbers are creeping up, you’ll have to eat less and move more. It's simple math.
We know your schedule is packed with parties, but don’t forget to rest. Sleep deprivation makes your hunger cues go haywire and sends you scrounging for high-calorie, sugary foods. Aim for 8 hours a night, and try to keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent, even on the weekends (a drag, we know, but your figure will thank you for it come 2020).