Tis the Season
Eight dos and don'ts for enjoying the holidays without having
to loosen your belt buckle
During December, it's natural to have visions of sugar plums
dancing through your head-and turkey and stuffing and eggnog. But
unless you're careful, these holiday foods will dance through your
head and find a permanent home in your thighs.
"Most people only gain one to two pounds during the holiday
season," says Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., a spokeswoman for the
American Dietetic Association. "The problem is the weight doesn't
come off, so after 20 years of this, they're in trouble."
The best way to get rid of those extra couple of pounds is to
not gain them in the first place. Here are eight ways to keep the
weight at bay.
Don't diet. It may sound counterintuitive, but forget dieting
during the holidays. Instead, focus on maintaining your current
weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Dieting your
way through December only sets you up for failure. Plus, it will
make you feel alienated from celebrating and will be very hard to
Resolve not to diet after the holidays either. Knowing that New
Year's means a strict healthy-eating regimen, you may overindulge,
trying to fit in all your favorite foods, up until then.
Do plan ahead. The holidays are a time for celebrating, which
means you'll probably have at least a few parties to attend. And
most of them will revolve around eating and drinking.
To balance out the calories, eat a healthy breakfast and a light
lunch. But don't show up famished. Eat a snack before the party to
avoid overeating. If it's a buffet, peruse the lineup before
grabbing a plate and choose only foods you really want to eat. If
you're not sure there will be healthy options, ask the hostess if
you can bring a dish to share, and make it a low-calorie one. Or
consider arriving fashionably late and skipping the meal
Do plan a healthy party of your own. If you're hosting a holiday
get-together, help your family and friends stay healthy, too, by
serving low-fat, low-calorie fare such as vegetables with fat-free
dressing, shrimp skewers and fresh fruit.
Also, put some thought into laying out your party. Instead of
one large buffet, spread the food out around the room. It will make
it look less like the main event and will encourage mingling among
guests. Arrange the food on each table deliberately, too. Put the
healthiest choices up front where they're easy to reach. And put
bite-sized snack foods, such as nuts and popcorn, into carafes so
that guests have to lift and pour them onto their plates,
discouraging unconscious munching.
Don't follow the recipe. "Traditional holiday meals are fairly
healthy, if you skip the gravy and don't bake your greenbeans in
cream of mushroom soup," says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., also
a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. So feel free
to continue to make your favorite holiday dishes- just make them a
bit healthier. Is there butter in your mashed potato recipe? Try
chicken broth and skim milk instead. In salads, pass on the
mayonnaise and substitute nonfat plain yogurt. Swap some of the oil
in baked goods recipes for applesauce.
Don't forget to count drink calories. Eating a healthy holiday
diet won't amount to much if you wash every meal down with a soda
or glass of eggnog. "Keep the lid on alcoholic beverages,"
Gerbstadt says."They're a big source of hidden calories."Opt
instead for sparkling water, diet drinks or plain ol' water.
Do plan active gatherings. Coordinate activities that don't
focus on food. Take the family ice skating or for a walk through
the neighborhood to look at holiday lights .And limit the number of
holiday "specials" the kids watch on TV. Instead of watching Frosty
the Snowman, tell them the story as you build a real Frosty in the
Don't beat yourself up. If after trying hard, you still gain a
couple of pounds, don't be too hard on yourself. Just return to a
low-fat, low-calorie diet and ramp up your physical activity
combined with regular massage therapy for a
more balanced lifestyle. And be patient."The bottom line is it took
two months of excessive eating to gain it," Gerbstadt says."It's
not going to come off in a couple of days." -By Shelley