As the days get shorter and the temperatures cool, you know it’s coming. When Jack-o-lanterns appear, you know it’s just around the corner — the holiday season, also known as the season of overindulgence. The combination of holiday dinners and parties, as well as an almost constant barrage of sweet temptations, can mean by the time the New Year begins, you’ve acquired not just some great gifts, but something you really didn’t want: a few more pounds.
Returning gifts is easy, but getting rid of that extra weight? That’s not so simple. Instead of having to wrestle with the scale after the holidays, why not take some proactive steps to eat healthier during them? Here are some healthy holiday eating strategies from Real Simple:
- Eat the best-for-you offerings first. Enjoying a broth-based soup or lightly dressed salad to start a meal can help you avoid overdoing it during the main course.
- Don’t park yourself near the munchies. If bowls of chips or nuts are at arm’s length, you’ll be tempted to mindlessly snack while chatting.
- Concentrate on your meal. Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying its smell, taste, and texture.
- Never go to a mall on an empty stomach. To avoid temptation, stay away from the food court. If you must eat while you’re shopping, choose a sit-down restaurant over a grab-and-go place.
- Keep track of what you eat in a food diary. Being accountable for what you’re putting in your mouth will help you stay committed to your healthy goals during this risky eating period.
- Eat before going to a party. You’ve probably heard this — because it’s a good idea. Fill up on a healthy snack before you face food temptation.
- Keep healthy snacks in your desk. It takes willpower to bypass the treats that will likely pile up at your office; having something good to eat at hand will help.
- Manage portion sizes. Take a skinny wedge of pie or a teaspoon of mashed potatoes. It can also help to use smaller plates and serving utensils.
- Control your environment. Sit next to a fellow healthy eater or someone you know who eats slowly, so you can match their pace.
- Maintain an exercise schedule. Even though you may be busier than usual, that’s no excuse to ignore fitness; even a few 10- or 15-minute spurts of exercise throughout the day can help.
- Choose your indulgences. Allow yourself a cheat day, and don’t waste calories on foods you can have at any time of the year.
If doing everything on this list seems overwhelming, pick the actions that resonate most with you. Just having an eating strategy before the holidays arrive will help you make better choices. It is possible to avoid packing on unhealthy holiday pounds — if you put your mind to it.