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How not to gain too much weight during the holidays

Posted Dec 11 2009 6:33am
How-not-to-gain-too-much-weight-during-the-holidays

***The biggest mistakes you might make over the holidays that would cause you to gain a LOT of weight are exposed in this post!***

Party over here, party over there, party everywhere!!!

Is there not a song that has those words? Well for most of us the last month of the year is party month.

With parties come a deluge of drinks (pops, juices and alcoholic beverages) and a mountain of food at every corner.

>>> Three foods that will surely kill your diet during the holidays:

1) The endless mountain of home-baked sweets you’ll be eating soon! How many amateur bakers unleash the power of their stand mixer during the holiday season just to come to work with a platter of freshly baked goods? It’s so hard to resist all those treats and that doesn’t even take into consideration all the mini-chocolates and candy canes floating around the office.

2) How many cocktails or eggnog drinks did you have this week? Trust me, you will lose count of how many drinks you’ll consume during the holiday season, but your body is keeping track and every sip is adding up on the calorie scale! If you don’t usually gravitate towards alcoholic beverages, there is no shortage of soft drinks available and don’t forget about those virgin-drinks! It all amounts to one thing in the end: sugar!

3) How many appetizers can one consume in a day or an evening during party-hopping season? Far more than you think!

Appetizers and snacks may not seem like food in comparison to sitting down with a plate (a fork and a knife), but they will considerably add to your calorie load because you can easily overindulge when it comes to those bite-size portions that are so popular at this time of the year.

You see, when it comes to appetizers, most of us stand in front of a table, chatting up a storm, reminiscing about the year that has passed all the while popping copious amounts of bite-size food in our mouths.

Also, when you are going from one invitation to another, it almost seems rude not to eat all of them. You really don’t want to disrespect your host by saying that you just came from another party and you ate up a storm.

> So how do you control your weight during party-season and avoid overeating?

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There are definitely tricks to avoid overeating during the holiday season. Most of them are dead simple and won’t put a damper on your holiday spirits and they also won’t add to your waist line.

I don’t think the idea is to give up the holiday treats that are only available once a year. I think it’s more of a question of actually learning a few tricks that will allow you to enjoy the holiday season without putting on too many pounds.

I guess what I’m saying is that it is possible to enjoy holiday meals and desserts while maintaining a healthy weight during the month of December!

> 13 simple tricks to avoid overeating during the holiday season:

1. Have a liquid breakfast: When you’ve spent the evening eating and eating and eating, you don’t want to wake up the next morning and eat a bagel or a muffin. Even outside of the holiday season, you should keep your breakfast light because as the name says, it’s the meal that breaks the night-time fast. You should opt for fresh fruits, smoothies or freshly squeezed juices.

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2. Drink water: Water is essential. It’s even more important to remember to drink water during the holidays because you are drinking so many alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. To make it easier, why not carry a bottle of water with you and make sure you drink one or two litres a day.

3. Don’t go hungry: If you are running around, do grab something on the go like a sandwich or a handful of nuts before you head to your parties. If you arrive famished at your parties, you will not discriminate and you’ll end up eating everything that’s offered to you to quiet your stomach.

4. Eat something healthy: If you have a lot of parties, try to eat a healthy salad at lunch (not one with heavy oily salad dressings). You don’t want to only eat sweets, highly saturated foods and alcohol for two weeks straight.

5. Dips can contain a lot of calories: Dips and veggies are a holiday feast staple. Yes, it may seem like a healthy choice to eat raw vegetables, but some of those dips are insanely high in calories. Hummus (Middle Eastern chickpea dip), cutting back on the amount of dip you eat or bypassing dips all together and sticking to the veggies (it’s not like you’re not going to eat anything else) are much safer options.

6. PLEASE grab a plate: If you’re going to eat appetizers, put them on a plate. If you see what you are eating, your brain will quickly do the math and you’ll stop eating eventually when you realize that you’re consuming way too much food.

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7. Control your pace: If you know you have more than one party to go to for the evening, why not cut back your portions at each party?

8. Keep walking right past the food: Office parties are just cruel during party season. It seems like each department and each group within each department throws a party. That also means that board rooms and office kitchens are always loaded with leftovers. If you see them, you don’t have to stop and sample the goods, you can (and SHOULD) just keep walking.

9. You don’t have to eat dessert: This is definitely the season for decadent sweets and many desserts that you only get to sample once a year. Try to keep your calories for your absolute favourites. This might sound like a sacrilege to some, but you don’t have to eat desserts all the time AND you don’t have to taste all the desserts that are presented to you.

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10. Have some of my freshly baked goods! Yes, that IS the invitation of the season. Everyone comes to work with home baked goods and boxes of chocolates. Everyone is so polite and so caring, so of course they don’t want you to feel left out and they’ll offer you food. You don’t have to say yes if you’ve already eaten a lot or if you have a string of parties scheduled for that day or that week.

11. You don’t have to go back for seconds (or thirds): So you’ve been good and you did put your food on a plate so you can actually see what you are eating. That doesn’t mean you need to go back for seconds or thirds because chances are, you’re just getting started when it comes to your party-hopping schedule.

12. Alcoholic beverages do contain calories: It goes without saying that when it comes to alcohol, you also want to control your intake. Alcoholic beverages are very high in calories (because they contain a lot of sugar) and they dehydrate your body.

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13. Walk off some of the calories: It’s so easy during this time of the year to eat, drink and sit (and repeat). If seems like we are going from one meal to another without any breaks. If you don’t have time to maintain your regular fitness program, be sure to take walks or do anything you can to keep moving. Remember that managing the remote control doesn’t count as a calorie-burning activity.

> So are these tips that I use myself?

I’ll be honest, I have the reverse problem during the holidays. When I see too much food, my brain shuts down and yells “no more”. When most people I know complain about the weight gain in January, I usually have nothing to add to that discussion because I simply cannot stand being around that much food.

When it comes to alcohol, once I’ve passed the three-drink mark, my stomach starts screaming for relief, so I’ll switch to sparkling or flat water.

> So why are these tips to avoid overeating during the holiday season so important?

There is nothing more discouraging than having to lose weight that you’ve put on over a two- or three-week period of overeating. It’s a known fact that as we age, we simply don’t burn as much calories and fat as we used to if we live an inactive lifestyle where we have little physical activity. You gain weight as you age because your muscle mass diminishes with time and if you don’t exercise and overeat during the holidays, you too will be trying to find the latest lose-weight-quick-Hollywood-diet of the year in January.

Losing weight is hard enough, so having to lose 20 pounds that you’ve put on during a short period of time is challenging and there are ways to avoid it all together without sacrificing your party enjoyment.

You can have your cake and eat it too during the holiday season … as long as you don’t end up eating the entire cake (or the equivalent in calories)!

Don’t worry, in the coming weeks, I’ll have loads of tips and advice to help you get on track for the New Year and lose weight … and none of them involve silly diet gimmicks!

Photo of Christmas cookies by Dano

Photo of gingerbread house by yumiang

Photo of star cookies by realSMILEY

Photo of Christmas Wreath by Tracy Hunter

Photo of pastry by Tracy Hunter

Photo of lasagna by purpleslog

Photo of turkey with bacon by WordRidden

Photo of Martini by Kyle May

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