Oh, the holidays. They certainly are a time for family and good cheer — and for standing in line at the home-cooked family trough, mindlessly packing on the calories.
Yes, food is entwined with the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender to the annual festival of overindulgence.
You can still enjoy the ham, turkey, and all the trimmings in moderation without sacrificing your waistline.
Here are seven holiday-savvy tips that will help you do just that.
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Ways To Avoid Overeating This Holiday Season
1) Go for a Morning Run
Even with the best intentions, you may eat more during the holidays than you intend to.
That’s why you should start the day off right with a good, energetic workout.
Go for a morning jog, hit the gym for a particularly rigorous session, or do a high-intensity interval training workout at home.
Working out is a good way to start your day by getting your body to burn some extra calories before you divulge in tasty holiday treats, entrees, and desserts.
2) Don’t Skip Breakfast
Missing a meal might make you feel like you’re saving on calories, but what you’re doing is running the risk of overeating later to make up for the loss.
Instead, enjoy a hearty breakfast that’s heavy on the protein and light on the carbohydrates.
3) Bring Healthy Finger Foods for Everyone
If you’re attending a holiday gathering, bring something healthy to nibble on.
Try a veggie tray with hummus dip, grilled vegetables, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, or cold steamed shrimp.
When you’re tempted to graze, turn to these healthy options to keep your calorie count in check.
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4) Drink Water
Avoid the eggnog, spiced rum, hard cider, beer, and champagne. While they’re all delightful and guaranteed to make you tipsy, they also are loaded with sugar and empty calories.
Stick to refreshing, zero-calorie water. If you’re worried about what others think, bring your own carbonated water and garnish your glass with a wedge of lime or lemon.
You can even opt for a refreshing zero-calorie flavored sparkling water like Bubly or plain sparkling water with fresh raspberries!
Research has found drinking 16 ounces of water 30-minutes before a meal results in less calories consumed, thus helping to lose or keep extra weight off.
5) Choose a Smaller Plate
Dinner’s ready! Of course, you want to partake in the bounty; you just don’t want to gorge yourself.
If you can, try to pick a smaller plate to serve your food on.
You will fill up much more quickly than when you eat from a large plate by tricking your mind into believing you ate more than you did.
Choosing a smaller plate will also keep you from overeating by giving you smaller portion sizes.
Not knowing portion sizes for each food category is a major component of overeating.
If you don’t know your portion sizes you are likely to overfill your plate with too many carbs.
Here is a quick guide of how much one serving size is per food group:
1 serving of vegetables= 1 cup (size of a baseball)
1 serving of sliced fruit= 1/2 cup (size of a tennis ball)
1 serving of protein= 3 ounces (size of a deck of cards)
1 serving of carbohydrates= 1/2 cup (size of a hockey puck)
1 serving of fats= 1 teaspoon (size of two game dice)
Learning serving sizes and applying this to every meal and how many servings you need per day takes time to learn.
Start thinking ahead for the holiday season to avoid overeating.
6) Make Smart Choices
One of the good things about the food available during the holidays is there is usually a wealth of options. Play it smart.
Eat all the protein, fresh vegetables and fruit you want. Go easy on the rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, stuffing, and breads.
Don’t ladle gravy over everything. Be just as judicious with the desserts. Take a pinch, a taste, a sliver.
Don’t try to cover the entire surface of your plate with a serving of every dessert every aunt, grandmother, sister, and niece baked.
7) Resist the Post-Consumption Coma
The men usually retire to the living to snore openly in front of a football game, while the women gather around the kitchen table to gossip and continue to pick at food. Buck this tradition!
End the holiday meal with an enjoyable family walk around the neighborhood. Take the kids to the park.
Wave to the neighbors. Light a few fireworks. Get thee off thy rumpus and burn some calories.
8) Slow Down
Your eating that is! Sometimes when food tastes so good, we tend to scarf it down as fast as we can.
Especially when it comes to sweets! If you’re guilty of this, try eating slower.
The longer the time you take to eat, the less likely you are to get to dessert and the less calories you will eat overall.
Studies have shown fast-eaters are 115% more likely to be obese compared to slower eaters.
Overeating is easy to do during the holidays. Not only are you trying foods you may only eat once a year, you might feel pressure from family and friends to try every unhealthy dish their is on the table because it was made with love.
With the simple tips above can steer yourself in a healthy eating direction and still not have other’s around you notice your trying to keep to a diet.
While the holidays are often a swirling vortex of food traps wherever you turn, we promise you won’t find yourself overeating.
By following these easy steps and keeping your wits about you, your holiday season can be weight-gain-free.