Our Counselors' 20 Hot Tips To Keep The Holidays Lite

Monday, November 06, 2006

The holiday season, with all its parties and special foods, poses a challenge whether trying to lose weight or just keep from gaining. Happy AND healthy holidays need not be mutually exclusive; in fact the healthier your holidays are the happier you're likely to be in the long run. Here are some concrete strategies you can use to be healthy during the holidays, whether you are the guest or host.

DO make a commitment to yourself and your goals. Don't let anyone or anything of lesser importance derail you. Accept all invitations with a firm commitment to enjoy the event and meet your goals. DO plan ahead and in detail how you'll deal with the event. "I'll just watch what I eat" won't cut it. Make a firm commitment to a plan of action like the following: "position myself away from the hors d'ouevres, guzzle water, skip dessert and hit the dance floor and dance up a storm." Even if you don't execute your plan perfectly, you will always do better with a plan than without. DON'T starve all day so you can overindulge in the evening. Research has shown that eating most of your calories in one big meal is the worst way to diet. By keeping your blood sugar stable before the festivities begin, it will be much easier to enjoy the event in moderation and still be satisfied and in control. DO slow down and savor your food. Set your fork down frequently. Chew thoroughly. Relax and enjoy your meal. DO set a 20 minute rule before having more food. It takes your brain 20 minutes to register fullness. There's no harm in waiting a bit to see if you really need more to eat. DO offer to bring a favorite dish. Your hostess will appreciate the gesture and you will be assured of having a food that's "legal". DO stick with coffee or tea if only rich desserts are offered. If you feel self conscious, accept a small portion and leave it on the plate. DO bear in mind that alcohol can stop a steady weight loss. Because the body has no place to store alcohol, it must be metabolized for energy immediately, pushing food into the storage queue. DO separate food from love and friendship. Focus on the company of friends and loved ones. Instead of eating a large slice of mom's pie, tell her you'd rather treat yourself to a big hug instead. DON'T overindulge and tell yourself "I'll burn it off tomorrow". It's the energy balance for the day that determines weight loss/maintenance. DO schedule in exercise. Regular exercise will go a long way toward helping you control holiday stress and your weight. DON'T use exercise as an excuse to overeat. Most people tend to overestimate how many calories they burn exercising and undo the effects by allowing themselves calorie laden foods that cancel out the exercise and more. DON'T avoid the scale. Plan in advance to weigh yourself the morning after the event...and if you are the host/hostess: DO offer foods that will appeal to dieters and non-dieters alike. Fresh green salads, veggie and fruit trays are foods everyone enjoys. DON'T call attention to the fact that either you or your guests are dieting. If it's not brought up, most people won't notice. DON'T allow the planning and preparation of your party to create undue stress. Few of us are Martha Stewart. Be realistic about what you can do. Create a list and timeline and break it down into small daily tasks you can do ahead of the big day. DO consider a light buffet. This option makes it easy for you and others to stick to their eating plan without the obvious elimination of a particular dish. DO consider hosting a cocktail party. Cocktail parties require less preparation and allow you to spend more time with you guests. Isn't that the point anyway? DO get rid of leftovers. All that extra food in the fridge only tempts you for a midnight raid. Send them home with your guests. DO set up a reward system for yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, bubble bath, manicure, movie or a new outfit. You're worth it!

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