1. Get your groove on
Staying active is one of the easiest ways to keep weight off in the colder months. Choose something you enjoy, whether it’s hiking outside, trying a new class at the gym, rocking out to Christmas music at home, walking at the mall with a friend, or working in the yard. Make a plan, and stick to it. Having a partner keeps you accountable.
2. Force the fluids
Do you have a harder time remembering to drink water in the winter time? Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink – thirst is a sign of dehydration. Fluid helps your body regulate temperature, balance fluids, and keep skin and muscles healthy. Besides water, choose low-fat milk/milk alternatives, unsweet tea, and fruits and veggies (many are 90% water!).
3. Boost immunity with anti-oxidants
Unless you live in a bubble, germs are impossible to avoid. Give your body a fighting chance over the holidays by consuming more foods high in anti-oxidants like Zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. Vegetables rich in reds and oranges, citrus fruits, eggs, lean meats, and fortified grains are high in these immune-boosting nutrients.
4. Resist skipping meals
It’s tempting to skip breakfast (and maybe lunch, too) when you know you’ve got a big meal planned for dinner. The logic of “saving calories” makes sense, but research shows that people tend to overeat when they backload their caloric intake. Instead, choose lighter foods like lean proteins (eggs, turkey, chicken), low-calorie foods (fruits and vegetables), and foods high in fiber (beans and whole grains) before a big meal.
5. Beat the buffet
The first time through the line, fill your plate with low-calorie items like steamed/cooked vegetables, lean meats, and salad. When you’re done, go back for small amounts of dishes like casseroles, gravy, and stuffing. Remember, you can always enjoy leftovers tomorrow.
6. Think small
People tend to eat less when they downsize their plate. Using a salad plate or bowl in place of a dinner plate can save a lot of calories. The same rule applies for beverages – use a small juice glass when drinking sugary beverages, eggnog, or anything else caloric.
7. Food safety
Too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to a food safety disaster. To reduce the chances of foodborne illness over the holidays, remember to wash your hands, thaw meat in the refrigerator or under running water, use separate cutting boards for raw meat and produce, wipe countertops with bleach or germ-killing agent, and dispose of leftovers in a timely manner. When in doubt, throw it out.
8. Count your liquid
Remember that liquid calories and food calories are created equal. Liquid typically contains less fiber and does not fill you up. Limit consumption of caloric beverages like eggnog, sodas, peppermint mochas, and alcohol. Alcohol contains more calories per gram than sugar and almost as many as fat.
9. A carb’s best friend
Try adding something with protein to every meal and snack. Protein digests more slowly and keeps blood sugar levels more stable. It also keeps you satisfied longer between meals. Pairing a carb with a protein is an ideal snack. Some examples are: whole grain crackers + cheese; apple + peanut or almond butter; ¼ c nuts + dried fruit; 5 oz greek yogurt.
10. Don’t always skip dessert
Don’t pace back and forth by the pie table while salivating. Help yourself to a reasonable slice (width of two fingers, or one inch) and savor every bite. Try taking a walk after your meal to help regulate blood sugar.