The holidays are filled with joy – and they’re also filled with a lot of holiday food. And that can be a problem if you’re trying to lose some weight. Fortunately, there are some ways you can say goodbye to 2018 without also saying goodbye to all the progress you’ve made toward your weight loss goals. Need a little help staying on track? This holiday guide will hopefully make it easier for you to navigate this wonderful time of year – without packing on the pounds.
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 1: Be Prepared
When your friends, family, work associates, or neighbors invite you to a holiday party, you’ll probably have plenty of advance notice. People like to plan parties to ring in the holidays – they usually don’t just pop up out of nowhere. As a result, you’ll have some time to plan ahead, too, so that the party doesn’t derail your weight loss program.
Now, you want to try to stick with your weight loss regimen as closely as possible on the day of the party. Here are some of the ways you can plan ahead and be prepared.
- If you typically eat at a certain time, but the meal is going to be served later, eat a small snack at your normal meal time. Then, when dinner is served, eat a little less.
- If you want to indulge a little and enjoy some of the holiday desserts being offered, just lighten up other food choices during the holiday meal – particularly carbs, like bread.
- Don’t starve yourself on the day of the party. You’ll be more prone to overeating when you see all that delicious holiday food.1
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 2: Control What You Can Control
A lot of parties during the holidays are Pot Luck — which means guests can contribute a dish or two so that everyone can enjoy a variety of foods. This is the perfect time for you to bring your own healthy dish – so that your diet doesn’t go off track.
When preparing that healthy dish, keep your weight loss plan in mind.
There are things you can do to cut calories and fat from your meal.
For example, if you’re preparing meat, cut away as much fat as possible before you put it in the oven. If you’re making a dish with chicken, roast it on a rack. A lot of the fat will drip off if you use this approach. Also, remove the skin before you eat it.
And whenever possible, substitute low-fat ingredients for those high in fat content when making any sauces, and include as many vegetables as you can. For example, when it comes to sauces, try to avoid using ingredients such as half-and-half or cream. Instead, try mixing Greek yogurt with milk. It might be slightly thicker, but you can thin it out by adding additional milk.2
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 3: Know When to Step Away
No holiday guide to healthy eating would be complete without this tip, whether it’s for 2018 or any other year. It’s incredibly tempting to overindulge during the holidays. Even if you’re presented with a lot of healthy dishes, the sheer amount of holiday food available will be hard to resist.
So, what can you do?
You simply need to know when to get up from the table. While you obviously don’t want to be rude, you also don’t want to wreck your diet. Eat slowly and mindfully, so you don’t finish well before the others at the table.
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 4: Shop Wisely
If you plan on attending several parties during the holidays, and you’ll be bringing your meals to many of them, you’ll want to make sure you choose wisely when you’re at the grocery store.
Healthy dishes start with healthy choices – and the store is where you’ll be making some very important decisions. Look for low-calorie substitutes whenever possible when gathering the ingredients for your meals.
For instance, if you’re following a recipe that includes mayo or sour cream, substitute non-fat Greek yogurt instead.
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 5: Preparing the Meal
Now, the holidays can get hectic, making you feel rushed. You may be tempted to take shortcuts when preparing meals for parties. If you do, you run the risk of skipping certain important food safety measures. Here are some examples:
- Don’t use the same plate for raw meat that you use for cooked meat.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly, both before you start your meal prep and during the process of putting the meal together.
- Don’t wipe your hands with the same towel you use to wipe the counter.
In addition, make sure that any meat you prepare is cooked to a safe temperature. For turkey, that means 160° F. For fresh beef (including steaks) and ham, that means 145° F.3
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 6: Avoid Grazing at the Office
As it turns out, the temptation to overeat during the holidays can be found not just at parties, but also at the office. Your co-workers will probably bring a lot of treats during the holidays, such as cookies or brownies they make at home. Some might bring huge tins of caramel popcorn or bags of holiday candy. It can be incredibly hard to keep from indulging when you see all of these treats just sitting out! Your willpower will be tested.
One way to combat this temptation is to bring your own healthy snacks and keep them within easy reach. If you have to nibble on something, substitute fruits and vegetables for those high-fat, sugary treats. And of course, if someone offers you a treat, don’t deny yourself entirely. Just remember — everything in moderation. Keep the grazing to a minimum.
2018 Holiday Guide Tip No. 7: Keep Exercising
If you are exercising on a regular basis, don’t stop your routine just because it’s the holiday season. Yes, this can be an exhausting time of year, with all of the shopping and socializing you’ll be doing. But don’t let that be an excuse for not working out.
It will take some discipline, but maintaining your exercise regimen will go a long way toward balancing out any overeating you might do. There’s simply no substitute for a good workout – and it’s especially important during the holidays.
The Bottom Line
It can be nearly impossible to avoid holiday food, whether you’re at home, at the office, or at someone’s party. But if you can bring your own healthy dishes to these gatherings, you might be able to keep your diet plan from going completely off the rails.
Substitute healthier ingredients when preparing meals, and also substitute healthy snacks for the not-so-healthy ones that your co-workers might bring into the office. Doing all of these things should help you stay on track, so you can ring in the new year without worrying about extra holiday pounds!
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