It's that time of year again when the holiday celebrations have tempting food dangling before our eyes and mouth. Between the office parties and family and friend get-togethers, the offerings are plenty. No other time of year celebrates for an entire month.
But we have to keep reminding ourselves that this is a "holi-DAY", not a "holi-MONTH!" We honestly start celebrations Dec 1 and finish on Dec 31! Now we understand where the same New Year's resolution of losing weight comes from. Many of us consume an extra 500 -1000 calories on these days which can cause as much as a 5 -10 lb weight gain. And we definitely feel it on January 1! So is it possible to enjoy the festive celebrations and maintain your weight? Absolutely! Here's my advice on how I prevent those pounds from creeping on:
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• Don't starve yourself all day knowing you can binge at the celebration. Before you go to an event, eat some protein and complex carbohydrates. Just enough to take the edge off your hunger. A fruit and piece of cheese or handful of nuts; Greek yogurt and fruit; whole grain crackers and peanut butter or even half of a sandwich made with whole grain bread and a couple of slices of chicken or turkey.
• For appetizers minimize or avoid any deep-fried foods. In a restaurant anything called "crispy" or "lightly fried" means fried in oil, which adds excess calories and fat. For example one deep fried chicken wing has 130 calories and 8 gm of fat. One barbequed wing has only 45 calories and 3 gm of fat.
• Don't eat for the sake of eating. Be particular with your choices. Eat what you enjoy. If it's extremely high calorie and fat, enjoy a small serving.
• In a restaurant, use all your will power and minimize the "free" appetizers such as bread baskets, garlic bread or high fat dips. Start your meal with a tomato or stock based soup or salad with dressing on the side. A heavy duty Caesar salad can add up to more calories than your entire meal!
• Avoid buffet meals if possible where you can go back for seconds and even thirds! And don't linger at the buffet table where you lose all control. Keep a glass of wine in one hand and a small plate of appetizers in another. You'll have trouble overeating!
• Keep in mind what the "perfect" plate looks like. Half the plate should be vegetables, (not deep fried, but grilled, sautéed, or roasted); one quarter lean protein (not prime rib or pork back ribs, but instead can enjoy a variety of fish and poultry), and the last quarter should be complex carbs such as whole grains or beans.
• Watch for main entrées or appetizers with heavy cream, cheese, or butter sauces
• Absolutely enjoy a dessert..... but with at least one or two others! One dessert can add up to more calories and fat than the entire meal, as well as raising your blood sugar levels.
• Watch out for liquid calories. Those festive beverages such as eggnog, spiked punches and fancy cocktails can have as much as 500 calories per drink! And you know you never just have one!
Weight gain over the holidays often stays permanently even with the best intentions of our January resolutions! By February we're starving, frustrated and tired of the cold days and dark nights and only food can make us happy, and I don't mean healthy food!