You may still be full from Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal, but it was just the start of the holiday eating season. With all the sweets and goodies present during December’s holiday events, putting on the pounds is a holiday tradition as big as putting up the tree.
But a smart December can make the first few weeks of the New Year’s resolution diet easier to stomach.
“Proper planning is the key. I believe anybody can do it with the right behavior modification and tools,” said Lori Gardner, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition and author of “My Little Black Book For a Healthy Non Diet Lifestyle,” in an interview with The Advocate.
Studies say the average person gains between one and seven pounds during the holidays, but Gardiner’s has five tips to help you avoid those unwanted pounds:
- You know you will be busy, so plan ahead for the time crunch: Always keep a healthy snack with you, such as Gardiner’s favorites — 100-calorie pack of nuts or a protein bar. Also, many fast-food restaurants now offer healthy options, so take advantage of them.
- Plan ahead for holiday gatherings: Never arrive at an event hungry. The hungrier you are, the less control you’ll have. Eat a light snack before the festivities. Non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese, a hard-boiled egg or a 100-calorie serving of almonds are good choices.
- Modify recipes without sacrificing flavor: Sauté vegetables in low-sodium chicken broth instead of oil, margarine or butter. For cream-based recipes, substitute fat-free versions of half-and-half, evaporated milk or milk. Decrease sugar in desserts by using sugar substitutes or dark brown sugar. Cinnamon and vanilla are great for sweetening without adding calories. Butter extract also adds flavor without calories.
- Watch the portions: Taste everything, but in smaller amounts. Eat slowly and savor the taste.
Love your splurge: Be choosy about calories you eat. Take a bite, and if you don’t love it, don’t continue eating. “Never waste calories on a ‘like’ dish.”
Bring a healthy dish: Add to the dinner offerings with a vegetable or a salad so you can load up on lower calorie foods.
- Maintain an exercise schedule and drink plenty of water: Squeeze in walks or other activities as much as you can to burn calories. If you can’t get in 30 minutes of moving, 10 minutes spread throughout the day is still beneficial.