10 Ways to Sidestep Holiday Weight-Gain

10 Ways to Sidestep Holiday Weight-Gain

Want to wake up on New Year’s Day without regretting all those cookies, latkes or bubbly holiday toasts? You can, with these 10 ways to sidestep the season’s "naughtiest" waistline threats with “nice” alternatives.

Naughty#1: Two-fisted eating and drinking
Nice: Always keep one hand free when you’re at get-togethers -- for hand shakes and friendly waves. An appetizer in your right hand and a drink in your left guarantees you’ll down more calories, faster.

Naughty#2: You’re cooking fatty, fried, dips, dishes and deserts.
Nice: Create a gorgeous veggie or fruit dish. One report found folks who bring produce-based dishes to parties are seen as better cooks and -- get this -- better people! Roast autumn vegetables; make a luscious butternut squash soup; thread fruit on skewers or toss frozen raspberries or pomegranate seeds into a fruit salad; top lightly-steamed asparagus with olive oil and toasted almond slivers. Delicious and healthy!

Naughty#3: Letting the buffet table tell you what to eat
Nice: Survey the offerings first. Three out of four partygoers take 66% of their food from the first three items on the buffet table. When high-fat and high-calorie fare is first, that works out to 31% more food! Check out the whole spread before digging in; ID one or two "treats" for later.

Naughty#4: Showing up hungry
Nice: Munch 6 walnuts before you arrive. Crunching about 70 calories-worth of fat -- we like the good kind in nuts -- 30 minutes before a meal squelches hunger so effectively that you’ll eat up to 36% less. This trick stimulates satisfaction hormones and dials down appetite-stimulating ghrelin. Twelve almonds, 20 peanuts or a shot glass of pine nuts also works. Related: Find out other foods that can help reduce your appetite.

Naughty#5: Crash-dieting between parties
Nice: Eating 3-5 times a day. Crash-dieting could trigger cravings and even slow down your metabolism. Stock your kitchen with quick-cooking wholesome fare (prewashed greens, frozen salmon burgers, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, canned low-sodium beans, whole grains) so healthy choices are easy to prepare. Don’t go hungry. Make healthy choices easier by saying "no thanks" to party leftovers, too.

Naughty#6: Stress
Nice: Finding time to relax. On-going tension -- at work, the kids, shopping, wrapping gifts and juggling crazy family dynamics at Grandma’s annual Christmas dinner -- boosts levels of appetite-stimulating cortisol, so you reach for more high-fat, carb-rich goodies. Physical activity, breathing exercises, yoga and even time with friends can tame tension.

Naughty#7: Skipping workouts
Nice: Moving around for 20 minutes a day. A 20-minute interval walk (warm up for a few minutes, then alternate extra-brisk and regular-pace steps) or spending the same amount of time on muscle-building, torches calories and keeps your metabolism burning hotter for hours afterward.

Naughty#8: Quenching your thirst with alcohol or sugary drinks
Nice: Water. Start the evening with two glasses of H20 to keep hunger in check; you’ll eat 13% less. Have another glassful with each alcoholic drink (women -- no more than one a day; men -- no more than two) -- provided you’re not the designated driver. You’ll steer clear of alcohol’s power to make you overeat -- not to mention all the empty calories in mixers and alcohol.

Naughty#9: Over-the-top cooking shows
Nice: Changing the channel. Watching Rachel, Nigella, Alton and the gang is fun, but skip food shows before you’re headed to a party. One report says viewers downed 40% more chocolate after seeing a food show than folks who didn’t watch one.

Naughty#10: Denial (really!)
Nice: A little treat. Don’t be a Scrooge. Savor small helpings of holiday favorites like a spoonful or two of Aunt Edy’s candied yams, one of your co-worker’s homemade snickerdoodles or a luscious chocolate truffle. Eat slowly, then get back to the real happiness holidays bring, sharing good times with family and friends. Hit the dance floor, join the kids making snowmen or playing touch football, trim the tree, swap stories about holidays past and chat up a partygoer you’d like to know better. That’s how Happy New Year’s are made.

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