This year, skip the post-Yuletide guilt by celebrating smart — without feeling deprived. —By Grant Stoddard
It feels like there’s no avoiding it: the national feeding frenzy stretching from late November until the wee hours of January 1st — the holiday season. During this five-week span, food ceases to have any relation to our energy requirements. It almost feels like the whole thing is set up to derail our plans to look and feel good, and it's all too easy to just give in. We’re here to tell you that you can have a holly-jolly holiday without feeling like your gut is trying to escape your belt. Just adhere to the following 10 rules when making merry. And check out the report that's changed thousands of lives: 100 Ways to Live to 100!
Weigh yourself daily
The holiday season can seem like a blur of opportunities to mix and mingle over delicious, nutritionally dubious food and drink. Typically, by the time we’ve noticed that our clothes don't fit right, the damage has been done. So step on the scale at the same time each morning. People who do, then eat less or exercise more, are 82% less likely to regain lost weight than those who don’t weigh in as often, according to research.
Get a good night’s sleep
Get at least seven hours of sleep the night before a party. A recent study found that sleep-deprived adults ate an extra 300 calories the next day and tended to choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods. So settle in for a longer winter’s nap. Having trouble? These 10 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight will help you get the best shuteye of your life.
Don’t arrive hungry
It’s tempting to think that it's a good idea to starve yourself all day, then eat and drink your daily calories at a holiday party. It isn’t. First, party foods are often not the most nutritious, and research shows that we tend to make worse choices when we’re hungry. Your best bet is to eat a healthy, modest-sized meal before heading to a party. Then take just a bite of the snacks that are calling your name.
Head directly to a water source
It happens almost immediately after you walk through the door: Someone puts a drink in your hand or directs you to a sumptuous cheeseboard. This holiday season, you’re going to head for the kitchen, pour yourself a pint of water and guzzle it down. Refill your glass and have it in your hand when you mingle. Just having a glass of liquid in your hand should dampen the urge to pick up a beer, cocktail or a glass of wine. For every alcoholic drink, drink a glass of water in between. You won’t get so tipsy, so you’ll be less likely to overeat. Drinking more water is only one of these amazing 52 Super-Fast Health Fixes!
Keep your distance
Look around you at any holiday gathering. You’ll see bowls brimming with calorically dense food items that we can just reach in and grab a handful of. We’re talking potato chips, M&Ms, peanuts and the like. You start talking with someone, and soon you’re mindlessly grabbing another handful. Before you know it, you’ve put away hundreds of empty calories. Several studies have shown that the best solution to mindless snacking is also the simplest one: Step back. Having those snacks out of arm’s reach literally means that your arms will not be able to reach them.
Count to three
When pouring yourself a glass of wine, count 1-2-3 to improve your chances of ending up with a 5-ounce serving. Don’t make the rookie mistake of simply filling up a glass halfway. In many glasses, that amounts to 10 ounces of wine — turning that 125-calorie glass into a 250-calorie one! For more sound trimming-down advice, check out these 6 Quick Ways to Lose Weight Fast!
Grab a smaller plate
This tip is equally simple and effective. If you’re in someone’s home, chances are you’ll be able to get a plate that’s smaller than the ones put out for guests. Studies have shown that when left to roam free at the buffet, people tend to cover their entire plate with food. A smaller plate limits the amount of food you can pile on it. It’s just physics.
Cover your plate with lower-calorie items
Regardless of the size of your plate, cover at least a half of it with leafy greens, vegetable dishes and lean proteins. The limited real estate means you'll have to be more discerning with the room you have left and will take smaller portions of the richer ones. You’ll end up eating more food for fewer calories and not feeling deprived. And stock your kitchen with these 25 Foods That'll Keep You Young Forever!
Think about your food
Whether you’re hosting a yuletide shindig or merely attending one, chances are you’ll be eating while catching up with a friend, co-worker or relative. Try to set your plate down until you’ve finished chatting it up, and you may prevent yourself from having a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly by New Year's. See, research has shown that mealtime multitasking (whether at home or at a party) can make you unthinkingly pop calories into your mouth. Another good idea is to focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste and texture of each morsel.
Another advantage of stopping to chat with someone you haven’t seen for a while is that it will slow down the rate at which you eat and give your stomach a chance to tell your brain that you’re full. Now make sure you're living your life to the absolute fullest all year round — start checking off these 40 Things You Must Do in Your 40s!