On average, men and women gain about 5 pounds over the holidays. Turkey and stuffing, freshly baked Christmas cookies and eggnog, and your mom’s famous cheesy casserole can ruin even the best intentions. The holidays are probably not the time to start a new diet — too many temptations! — but you can keep your weight gain in check with these both new & time-tested tips.
Drink White Tea with Lemon
Starting a week before a holiday gathering, make yourself a cup of white tea twice daily and squeeze some lemon into it. This antioxidant-rich drink can replace your cup of coffee, and will regulate the way your body responds to sugar. Some doctors call this combination a “soothing spa treatment for your body,” and early research suggests that it may prevent your body from forming fat cells.
Weigh Yourself Twice a Week, and Keep Track of What You Eat
When you know you’ll see the results of your indulgence, you’re less likely to overeat. You will also be able to compensate with an extra workout or two if the number on the scale starts to creep up. Many doctors also recommend keeping a food diary, including even the taste-test spoonful of stuffing or the 3 chocolate chips you snagged while no one was looking.
Don’t Starve Before the Party
You know you’re in for a big meal at tonight’s office party, so you might as well skip breakfast and get ahead of the game, right? Wrong. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism and leaves you more likely to overeat. Instead, doctors suggest starting your day with a macronutrient breakfast smoothie, made with almond or soy milk, walnuts, banana, and canned pumpkin. Add in some cinnamon and a touch of ginger, and blend well. This smoothie has the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats — plus it’s filling, and tastes delicious!
Right Before the Party, Eat a High Fiber Cracker
Doctors also recommend eating a cracker containing 6 grams of fiber. It may not taste all that exciting, but they believes that it can slow the absorption of fats from your meal. This means you can indulge in your favorites without getting weighed down. You can also fill up on a healthy snack like string cheese or almonds beforehand, to avoid devouring tons of calorie-laden appetizers. Or, bring a veggie tray to the party, and gorge on low-calorie carrots and pepper strips instead of bacon-wrapped smokies.
Start Your Meal with Apple Cider Vinegar
When you sit down to eat, drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, or add some vinegar to your salad course. This helps your body to process sugar optimally. Most of our holiday favorites — even the veggie side dishes, such as sweet potato casserole or glazed carrots — are high in sugar, so we definitely want to set ourselves up to process all this extra sugar well. Some doctors call these apple cider vinegar shots the “foundation of this holiday cheat sheet.”
Alcoholic drinks are filled with calories, with eggnog topping the list at 450 calories a serving! Doctors recommend opting for 100-calorie drinks such as light beer, wine, hard liquor on the rocks, or wine or liquor mixed with club soda. Alternate glasses of alcohol with glasses of water to stay hydrated and limit calories. Avoid becoming inebriated, as this will not only add to your liquid calorie intake, but also lower your inhibitions and leave you more likely to overindulge on the buffet or the dessert tray.
Eat Dessert, But Skip the Crust
Go ahead and help yourself to a slice of pie — but just eat the filling. The crust contains, on average, an extra 125 calories and 7 grams of fat. This will allow you to join in the fun and yumminess without feeling deprived or ruining your efforts to prevent weight gain. Another trick some doctors suggest is buying a pre-made dessert on the way to the party, instead of baking one yourself ahead of time. This will eliminate that tendency to sneak bites the night before.
Exercise to Compensate
Aim to get an extra 20 minutes of exercise a day, and step it up a notch if you know you overdid it at last night’s holiday gathering. Maintaining your weight can be as simple as making sure your calorie expenditure meets or exceeds your calorie intake. If you don’t have time for an extra-long gym workout, try to fit in a brisk walk in the morning, or pull up a short workout video on YouTube before making dinner. Or try fitting in mini calorie-busting moves: While you’re finishing your holiday shopping, park far from the entrance and carry your bags back to your car. Take the stairs at the office, or take brief breaks throughout the day to do some jumping jacks and squats. Start a dance party at your family gathering, and get everyone up and moving!