7 Ways to Avoid Holiday Overindulgence
It’s possible to splurge sensibly with these tips
The holiday season is in full swing — and so is the overindulgence that comes with it. You want to celebrate, but it pays to be mindful about what you’re eating to stay healthy and energized.
Calories from too many holiday treats lead to an average weight gain of about a pound for people living in the U.S., even if you’re physically active, and especially if you’re overweight. That may not sound like much, but it’s possible you won’t shed this season’s weight gain in 2016. In addition, a single super-sized, fat-filled meal can temporarily jeopardize heart health and leave you feeling bloated and sluggish the next day.
This is no time of year for complete deprivation in the name of good health, however. It’s not always easy to resist what this festive season has to offer, but it’s possible to splurge sensibly with these seven tips.
Pack in the protein. The holidays are fraught with temptation to veer from your healthy eating plan. Gird yourself with regular meals and snacks that include adequate protein (at least 20 grams per meal). Protein, found in foods such as dairy, soy products, lean meats, poultry and seafood, keeps you fuller for longer. When you’re satisfied, it’s harder for hunger to ruin your resolve to eat well at holiday gatherings and when leftovers are calling your name. At parties, pile your plate with lean, protein-rich foods, vegetables and whole grains.
Eat only what you love. Don’t resist the urge to splurge, but do be a discriminating diner. When presented with a table packed with goodies, scan the options for one or two higher-calorie seasonal foods you absolutely must have, like eggnog, sugar cookies or stuffing with gravy. Take small portions of your favorites, as the first few bites of any food pack the most pleasure.
Trick yourself. Research suggests that dining from a smaller plate — 9 inches is ideal — makes it seem like you’re eating more so that you won’t feel deprived. Another way to curb calories: Drink alcohol from tall, narrow glassware to delude your brain into thinking you’re drinking more. Sip water or other calorie-free drinks from wide-rimmed glasses because they encourage greater fluid intake.
Avoid dietary amnesia. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember what you had to eat when there’s so much food around. Fill your (smaller) plate once, and take a good look at it so that you’re aware of your intake. Don’t pick on food left on the dinner table or kitchen counter. If you want more to eat, put it on a plate, and sit down to enjoy it.
Take health with you. Tote a dish that you know you can fill up on to holiday gatherings, such as shrimp with cocktail sauce, low-fat dip and fresh vegetables, or chocolate angel food cake and fresh fruit. When you bring your own healthy food, you can rest easy that there’s something there for you to eat, guilt-free.
Related: How Many Calories Should You Eat?
Mix it up. Cocktails, wine, and beer lower your resistance to high-calorie foods, and they pack calories, too. Start the party off with a calorie-free soft drink, such as club soda and lime, and save your alcohol to enjoy with food. Sugary and creamy cocktails serve up the most calories, so sip wine, wine spritzers or light beer instead. Alternate an alcoholic beverage with water to cut back on alcohol intake. You’ll consume fewer calories and feel better the next day, too.
Forgive and forget. Did you overindulge at the company holiday party, at a relative’s house or at home? Get rid of the guilt. Dwelling on dietary disasters can lead to ditching healthier eating altogether. Instead of kicking yourself for overdoing it, start eating better at your very next meal or snack.
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