With trays upon trays of sugar cookies and a side dish for every guest, holiday feasting can take a toll on your waistline. The average holiday meal is around 3,000 calories, which is well over the recommended total daily allowance for women and men. In fact, the average weight gain during the holiday season is 1 to 3 pounds -- which may not sound like much except that holiday weight gain is hard to undo. Research shows most people never lose the weight they gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It’s simple math: after 10 years, that’s an extra 10-30 pounds to carry around.
Fortunately, there are several ways to maintain your weight over the holiday season -- one of which is dairy foods. Dairy is an important piece of weight management year-round; but it can come to your rescue when temptation is highest. Below are a few suggestions on how to have a healthier holiday:
The world is full of breakfast skippers, but even people who typically eat breakfast opt out during the holidays in order to “save room” for an upcoming feast or to compensate for extra calories. This often backfires because when you skip breakfast, your metabolism doesn’t get going until later in the day; and instead of showing up to a family get-together just slightly hungry, you show up starving -- which of course leads to overindulgence. Eating a protein-packed breakfast like oats with milk or eggs with cheese will help you stay satisfied longer and make you less hungry later in the day, helping you ward off the snacks that aren’t really worth eating anyway.
When cravings strike -- as they inevitably do -- it’s always good to have a backup plan. We’re not talking about skipping dessert or anything drastic like that. We’re referring to the turkey gobbling your name from the fridge at 11pm or the slice of pie that wants you to eat it for breakfast. If you insist on a midnight snack, we recommended keeping a stockpile of low-fat string cheese, and keep plenty of fruit with yogurt to eat when your sweet tooth is trying to get the best of you. They’re much healthier and just as satisfying as the alternatives.
It’s pretty simple. The more water you drink, the less room there is for other things in your stomach. Low-fat milk has the same effect.
Adopt the One Plate Rule
With this one guideline, you can save yourself hundreds of calories. Limit yourself to one plate at each family get together. This means flling your plate full of all your favorites and skipping the stuff you don’t really care about -- and no seconds. And you don’t even have to clear that appropriately loaded plate. Chances are, you’ll be full and completely satisfied.
Eat to Savor, Not to Stuff
Holiday food is so delicious and people tend to get so excited about it that they just scarf it down without really tasting it. Changing up the way you eat can help manage your weight, too. Mindful eating lets you enjoy all the foods you love – just eat them slowly and savor every bite, and remember to stop when you’re full.
Go for a Stroll
Get moving! Making it to the gym during the busy holidays or gearing up for a run in the cold is a big commitment. More power to you if that’s part of your winter routine -- but don’t discount a short walk either. Take a stroll with your favorite family member to get a break from the dessert table and create a few memories that don’t revolve around food.
Skip the Niceties
It’s okay to say “no, thank you.” If there’s food you really don’t feel like eating, saying “no, thank you” is perfectly acceptable, and you owe it to your health. Store-bought pie isn’t as good as the real stuff, so don’t eat it. The meat isn’t cooked how you like it, so don’t eat it. There’s still food on your plate, but you’re full. Don’t. Eat. It. Listen to your taste buds and your body.
With that, we want to wish you a happy, healthy, and delicious holiday season!