Tried and True Tips for Enjoying a Less-Fattening Holiday
By Diana Zuckerman, PhD
The sights and smells of wonderful food can put your willpower to the test during the holidays.
Studies show that most of us gain at least a pound over the winter holidays. Some — those who are physically active — will take off that extra weight in the spring. Unfortunately, most Americans are overweight to begin with and not active enough, and so tend to gain more than a pound or two during the holidays and to hold on to them. Year after year, those “few extra pounds” add up, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy holiday fare without gaining weight.
Here are a few proven ways to help curb the urge to overindulge:
- Ignore the old kitchen-table advice to eat before the party so you won’t be so hungry you’ll eat too much at the celebration. The adage, “With the food comes the appetite,” is true. Studies show that, hungry or not, people eat food that is put in front of them.
- At a party or buffet, stand or sit away from the food (or smell of food). That way, you’ll be less likely to go for seconds or thirds.
- At meals and parties, try not to sit or stand near people who eat and drink a lot.
- Eat fewer and smaller portions of high-fat, high-carb, and high-calorie foods.
- Put smaller portions on your plate. At a buffet or your own dinner party, use a smaller plate, which helps to reduce portions.
- Forget the age-old parental admonition to “clean your plate.” People may be starving all over the world, but your overeating won’t change that.
- Watch the booze. The calories in alcoholic beverages can be more than in dessert and less filling. A mere 10 ounces of wine is 200 calories. A 1.5-ounce shot of liquor is 105 calories. Mixed drinks, such as eggnog, daiquiris, and mojitos, can be 350 calories or more per 8 ounces, and one margarita, pina colada, or mudslide is 600 to 850 calories! Beer is 100 to 150 calories per 12 ounces but more filling.
- Get enough sleep. You are more likely to overeat if you’re tired. Lack of sleep also slows your metabolism, making it even easier to gain weight.
Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday!
Diana Zuckerman, PhD, is President of the National Research Center for Women & Families and the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund.