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WakeMed Blogs

Surviving the Holiday Party Gauntlet

December 18, 2012

The holidays are here and food is everywhere! There are holiday parties, family gatherings, people bringing their favorite foods to work and social events. The average American will gain 1-2 pounds during the holidays. That may not sound like much…but we don’t usually lose that weight and it piles on year after year. 

This is not the time to be on a strict diet, but it is a good time to work on avoiding weight gain. Be realistic, enjoy the holidays, sample your favorite foods but moderation will help you enjoy the season without regret.

NEVER SKIP A MEAL. If we skip a meal and are hungry when we arrive at the gathering, we’ll be more likely to lose control and overeat when tempted with high calorie foods. Enjoy a small, healthy snack before going to a party. Try one of these before you head out: half a sandwich with a glass of milk, a small handful of nuts, yogurt with fruit or a few whole grain crackers with string cheese.

WATCH YOUR PORTIONS. If you’re at a buffet or pot luck with different sized plates, use the smaller plate. Studies show if we have a larger plate we take more food, and if we take more food we eat more calories. If there are no smaller plates, decide to eat on the “inside” of the plate, meaning don’t put food on the outside, decorative rim. Don’t stack your food and skip the seconds.

SCAN THE FOOD TABLE BEFORE FILLING YOUR PLATE. Don’t pass up the special holiday foods, but skip foods you eat all the time like dinner rolls to save calories. Instead of loading up your plate take small servings, that way you can still enjoy the taste without feeling guilty later. Remember to add fruits and vegetables to your plate to help fill you up without going overboard on the calories. Take your time eating and enjoy the taste.

MOVE AWAY FROM THE FOOD. When you’re at a party, don’t stand close to the food table, you’ll be tempted to eat mindlessly while socializing. Remember, it’s okay to say “No thank you, I’m full” if people continue to offer you food.

LIMIT THE CALORIE CONTAINING DRINKS. Alcohol adds calories and decreases your willpower. Too much alcohol will cause you to lose control at the buffet table. Watch out for non-alcoholic beverages too. They can be full of empty calories. Try lower calorie drinks like light beer, wine spritzers, or diet drinks. Start with a glass of water to quench your thirst and drink a glass of water or diet drink between each calorie containing beverage.

REMEMBER TO EXERCISE. We tend to get busy and exercise often gets pushed aside during the holidays. Plan now to get exercise throughout the holiday season. Exercise relieves holiday stress and prevents weight gain.

You will have slip ups but it’s important to enjoy your friends and family, after all, that’s what the holidays are all about. If you go off track during a gathering, the next day try to eat a little healthier, try to exercise a little longer, and take some time to think how you could have avoided the pitfalls that got you off track. Reviewing what happened and how things could have been different will help you be more successful at your next gathering.

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