Coliseum Health System - December 01, 2018

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can bring joy, excitement, special times with family and friends – and, if you're not careful, weight gain. While we’re not suggesting that you skip out on grandma's chocolate pie, this year you can plan ahead and navigate diet-wrecking situations with ease. Let’s uncover common holiday weight gain traps -- and how to avoid them.

Problem: Parties and more parties

Solution: More talking, less eating

We're social beings, and in the season of celebration the things that bring us together are also the things that are detrimental to our weight. The key is conversation. As long as you make sure you’re taking a bite, talking and taking breaks between eating, that's key. Put your fork down, have a conversation with the people you're with and that will slow you down as far as eating is concerned. Another strategy? Experts suggest not arriving at a party ravenous. Instead, eat a small snack beforehand, such as an apple and peanut butter or lean turkey on whole-wheat bread.

Problem: Eggnog overload

Solution: Drink this, not that

Seasonal beverages like eggnog combined with drinking more than usual can tip the scales by the time you ring in the New Year. You may be drinking a lot of liquid calories without realizing it. People don't tend to factor alcoholic beverages into their total daily caloric intake plan. Sugary mixers are the main culprits when it comes to cocktails. Try sugar-free options or seltzer water as mixers instead. Another factor to consider? Alcohol can lessen your inhibitions to eat unhealthy foods – just another reason to drink in moderation.

Problem: Office goodies galore

Solution: Balance out indulgences

The holidays can be a dieter's landmine in the office, with coworkers sharing the seasonal joy with plates of homemade cookies and boxes of chocolates. Do you need to summon every ounce of willpower to avoid every treat? Not at all! The biggest misconception is that to lose weight you have to deprive yourself. You have to have checks and balances in your life. Allow yourself a treat, but then be more physically active throughout the day. On your next coffee break, go for a walk. Keeping checks and balances is the best way, in general, to not gain weight.

Problem: Eating until you're stuffed

Solution: Two words: portion control

You need to participate in the holiday meal just like everyone else. You should be able to have theluxury foods, but to keep from overdoing it, skip the 12-inch dinner plate and serve yourself on a salad plate instead. With large plates, we always feel like we have to fill it out and we end up eating more with our eyes than what we really want. Portion control is key throughout the holidays. By using a smaller plate you'll find that you're eating less, feeling fuller, and that's ultimately more satisfying.

Problem: A fridge full of leftovers

Solution: Get them out of the house

While turkey dressing with gravy, glazed ham, candied yams and pecan pie are traditional holiday staples, a steady diet of high-fat foods won't help your waistline. We're not suggesting that you toss the extra food in the trash if you've hosted a dinner. Send doggie bags home with guests or take the extras to a local food kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind.

Problem: The urge to hibernate

Solution: 10-minute workouts

While we know that packed calendars and chilly temperatures make it almost impossible to exercise consistently throughout the holidays, here's an easy solution. Get just ten minutes of physical activity in twice a day. Whether it's Pilates, yoga, jumping jacks or a quick upper body workout video you find online, you'll reap the benefits and feel accomplished. Short bursts of exercise will help your waistline – and your mood. Exercise increases endorphins so you feel happy. That helps you to make better choices during mealtimes.

Problem: Going overboard

Solution: Give yourself a break

If you overdo it, the first thing is to forgive yourself. Don't feel guilty about it. That can lead to emotional eating, a cycle that will put you where you don't want to be. How can you get back on course? Take the very next opportunity you have to eat or be healthy. In other words, no waiting until January 1 to hit the "restart" button. If you overeat at dinner, have a really healthy breakfast. Make sure to do that 10 minutes of working out twice a day. Also, keep a journal of both your food and drink intake to hold yourself accountable.

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