Enjoy the Holidays with These Six Tried-and-True Tips

Americans gain one to two pounds during the holiday season. Though it doesn’t sound like much, research shows that this weight gain tends to stick and accumulate over the years. However, it can be avoided with mindful eating and moderation.

1. Don’t “Save” Your Calories

Skipping meals in an effort to “save” them for a party will often result in overeating at the party. Research shows that those who eat a morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. This meal does not need to include traditional breakfast foods, but be sure to balance the meal. Include a lean protein and fiber with fruits, vegetables and/or whole grains. Fiber and protein help create a feeling of fullness and tend to be lower-calorie foods.  

2. Load Up on Free Foods

Vegetables are low-calorie, low-carb and high in fiber. Load up on the non-starchy veggies, whether in a snack or by bulking them into your favorite recipes. Consider using half as much rice in a dish and replace the volume with riced cauliflower. Or grate zucchini or carrots into combination dishes or casseroles.   

3. Keep Your Healthy Habits

Be consistent. Plan balanced meals throughout the week, even on days you are attending a party. Continue to prioritize your exercise by keeping it in its usual spot on the calendar. If you aren’t able to maintain a regular exercise routine, reschedule it for another time, but keep it a priority for stress relief and to offset extra indulgence.

4. Control the Party Scene

There are two strategies I recommend: pre-eat is the first. You never know what is going to be at a party, but usually, you will find high calories and refined carbohydrates. I recommend pre-eating a LEAN protein and/or non-starchy veggies before attending. This will ensure you do not arrive at the party hungry and create a meal out of high-calorie appetizers and alcohol, which is sure to be a recipe for overindulgence. The second strategy is to bring a homemade dish. Consider a creative recipe that includes non-starchy veggies and/or lean protein, creating a safe food for you. You may be surprised by how many attendees appreciate the more balanced option. If you are hosting a get-together, also consider a creative non-starchy veggie recipe—think beyond the veggie tray. Look at vegetarian recipes for inspiration.

5. Beverage Calories

Start the night off with a glass of water, and alternate water between your alcoholic beverages. Have a strategy. Know how many beverages you will have, and be aware of what that is doing for you calorically. For example, 5 ounces of white or red wine could range from 100-130 calories, but our glasses tend to hold much more than 5 ounces. A 1 1/2-ounce, 80-proof vodka or tequila is about 100 calories, so consider your mixers. Can you swap the sugary versions for a club soda or sparkling water and use lemons, limes or a splash of juice for flavor?

6. Check In

Weigh yourself weekly to know where you stand. If you do not have a scale, zip into your favorite slim-fitting pants once a week to assess the fit. Are they too tight? Evaluate potential culprits and make adjustments. Remember these few pounds tend to stick around, so be mindful throughout the next few months. If you can navigate the holidays and keep a healthy food-exercise-party balance, it’s a win, and you should be able to weather any season.

Andrea Kendrick is a registered dietitian and owner of Andrea Kendrick, RD, LLC and Associates. Contact her at AndreaRD.com.