Holiday Fat Fighting Tips
Twelve ways to stay slim and still have fun.
I love holiday food. Cookies covered in powdered sugar, pumpkin pie and almost anything covered in chocolate. When the goodies start arriving, I can work my way through a plate of desserts like a hot knife cutting through butter. (Mmmm, butter on a hot Babka or Rugelach from Zabars.)
What was I talking about? Oh yeah. How holiday temptations can be murder on the waist! But this year it can be different. Follow these simple steps, and in January, you'll be celebrating health, not a fat hangover.
Don't open boxes of candy when you're alone. Bring them to work or wait until you're with a group of people. Then you can open the box, eat a piece or two and share the rest. If your friends or co-workers are watching what they eat, don't open it at all. Take the sealed box to a food bank or soup kitchen.
Walk or bike to parties. It'll give you a chance to enjoy the holiday decorations and get a little exercise. If it's far enough away that you have to drive, go ahead. But find a safe place to park before you get there and walk the last mile or so.
Don't skip meals so you can "pig out" at a party. After four hours of not eating, your body turns to muscle for energy, not fat. Even worse is what'll happen when you show up at the party. Arrive hungry, and you're much more likely to overeat and not exercise good judgment.
At a potluck, bring something healthy. Yours might be the only dish that is, but at least you'll have one thing that's diet-friendly.
Skip cocktails if you can. Alcohol stimulates the appetite and can reduce your inhibitions so you're more likely to binge. Ask for non-alcoholic drinks like diet soda or unsweetened iced tea with artificial sweeteners. If people expect you to be holding a drink, get some seltzer water with a splash of lemon, lime or cranberry juice. Want to have a drink? Go ahead; just follow each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. It'll help keep you hydrated and reduce the total calories you're taking in.
Eat vegetables whenever possible, just avoid the sauces. If you have foods like carrots, celery, baby corn, broccoli or cauliflower, eat those first. If the options are breads, chips, cheese or sweets, eat them sparingly or not at all.
To avoid binging, make a promise you won't use a plate. Don't eat any more than you can hold in one hand, and don't hang around the buffet table. Walk to the other side of the room, so you're not near anything tempting.
Tell your friends and loved ones you're watching your weight. You like the food, but you just want smaller portions. If you're dealing with a "food pusher" that keeps insisting you eat more, use stall tactics. Excuse yourself for a bathroom break and don't return to the table when you get back. In larger gatherings, people will often forget you skipped the extra helpings.
During dinner, don't load your plate with the stuff you already know you like. Take small portions and sample ALL the foods. You'll expose yourself to new tastes and avoid binging on old favorites.
When dessert is being offered, politely decline and say you're full. Don't give in to food bullies. It's your body and you don't have to eat anything you don't want to. Practice saying "no thank you" and remain firm.
If your host keeps insisting, ask for it "to go" so you can enjoy it later or share it with a loved one. Then when you get home, you can dispose of it without worry of offending anyone. If there are no other options and you're expected to eat a piece, ask for a small one. Enjoy the flavor and eat slowly.
After the party, get rid of the diet disasters. Foods like turkey can make great leftovers; just make sure to dump the gravy and toss the skin. A turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and fat-free mayo on whole wheat is a very healthy meal.
Finally, DON'T plan on starting a diet during the holidays. Simply concentrate on not adding any extra pounds before January and consider that a great achievement.
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