If you are determined to keep that extra inch off your waist this holiday
season, there are two things you are going to need for every party and
gathering you attend: snacks and water.
That might not be the usual advice you receive this time of year, but the
key to keeping the pounds off as the buffet table piles on is to stay
hydrated with water — and to eat a little something before attending
a holiday event.
If you are already fairly full, you are less likely to fill up on high-calorie
temptations. Prior to dinner, eat a light snack. Examples of snacks include
small or medium pieces of fruit, half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat
bread, 2 to 3 cups of air popped popcorn, and a handful of nuts.
When you are invited to a potluck, bring raw vegetables. You can munch
on as many veggies as you need to avoid the fatty, starchy offerings of
others. In fact, to truly limit your calorie intake, pile half your plate
with green, leafy, non-starchy vegetables and reserve the other half for
the fattier stuff.
But play favorites. For instance, if you wait all year for your aunt's
stuffing, scoop a little on your plate, but forgo the dinner roll and
mashed potatoes. Use this same judgment when it comes to dessert: Even
pie has its place in a healthy holiday diet, so long as it's a small
portion and it is a capper to an otherwise healthy meal.
Another way to avoid overeating is to stay away from food — literally.
Position yourself as far away from the buffet table as possible to avoid
grazing while talking with friends and family. If you physically have
to get up to get over to the table for seconds (or thirds or fourths),
you might be less likely to do it.
Also, while you're strategizing how to say no to certain foods, consider
saying no to certain invitations. Rushing around from party to party,
sacrificing sleep and putting yourself in perilous dietary minefields
can be stressful. And stress usually leads to poor eating choices and
Just as you don't have to accept every invitation to feel social, you
don't have to accept every glass of champagne to feel festive. A glass
of red wine has almost as many calories as a can of regular Coke, so try
to limit it to one to two alcoholic drinks a day. And be sure to drink
plenty of water in between each alcoholic beverage.
In fact water is one of the key ingredients for keeping pounds off during
the holidays and all year round. Dehydration tricks the body into thinking
its hungry. By staying hydrated, we are less likely to grab an unnecessary snack.
I also advise patients to stay active. Institute a family walk between
a holiday meal and dessert or start a tradition of flag football on Thanksgiving.
It doesn't really matter what you do, so long as you're engaging
in a physical activity more strenuous than chewing.
It's never easy to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, but if
you stay mindful of what and how much you eat, you can make it to the
New Year healthier and fitter. Just remember to keep that water glass nearby.
MEGHAN GONZALEZ is a registered dietician and the Diabetes Educator and Dietician for the Hoag
Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center.
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Daily Pilot article