The holiday season means friends, family, parties—and lots of unhealthy food. These expert tips will help tame your holiday eating without compromising the fun.
Save your splurges
If you’re going to indulge a few times over the season, concentrate on foods that are special or unique to this time of year—not the ones you can get year-round to avoid holiday weight gain, says Gary Foster, PhD, chief scientific officer for WW (formerly Weight Watchers; the company’s motto now is Wellness that Works to reflect a focus on overall health as well as weight). That means letting yourself enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but not a stack of chocolate chip cookies at the office Christmas party. The seasonal focus means when the holidays are past, the temptations will go with them and you can return to healthy eating.
Wait to imbibe
“We recommend you delay your drink until you have food in your stomach,” says Elizabeth Politti, RD, nutrition director for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. She explains that food can help delay the absorption of alcohol. “Set some limits for yourself about alcohol such as that you won’t have more than one or two drinks.” And know yourself. If one glass of wine makes you completely lose your eating inhibitions, maybe it’s better to abstain in the face of food temptation. Here’s how giving up alcohol can help you lose weight.
If you’re a regular gym rat, great. But if not, you can still avoid holiday weight gain by taking every opportunity to stay physically active. That means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking as far as possible from the store entrance, getting off the bus a few stops early—all the little tricks for adding activity to your day you’ve read before. “Just assume the vertical and keep moving,” says Pamela M. Peeke, MD, MPH, chairperson of the Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “And add bits of intensity, short bursts of more activity, whenever you can.” Here’s some more convincing evidence for holiday exercise.