Enjoy a Holiday Party While Dieting

Sticking to a diet or just maintaining your weight over the holidays is really difficult for anyone. Even the skinniest of people will put on a couple of pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. But the Christmas season doesn’t have to mean the end of your diet and the beginning of sweat pants time! Here are ten easy tips you can follow to improve your chances of keeping your diet on the rails these holidays.

  1. Stop thinking about food! We know this is almost like telling you to not think of an elephant (you’re thinking of one now), but if you focus on it, this can really make a difference to your enjoyment of the holidays. If you, in your own mind, put more of an emphasis on having fun with friends and family, and not on all of the big dinners and fattening snacks you could be consuming, you’ll feel less pressured about your diet, and more able to just get on with enjoying your holidays.
  2. Drink at least one glass of water with every meal. Drink it early on in the meal, or while you’re waiting for food. This will help you feel fuller early on and prevent you from wanting seconds. Water also helps to boost your metabolism and clear your skin, so you’ll be feeling and looking better for it. When you’re not eating, try to always keep a glass or a bottle of water in your hands or near you.
  3. Know your nibbling habits. If you’re the type of person who habitually picks at a snack plate, make sure you’re near one that’s only veggies like cucumber, celery and carrots. Also take a look at what dips are on offer. Things like sour cream can be very high in calories, but low-fat humus can be a great low-calorie dip for crunchy, healthy snacks. If in doubt, have it without the dip.
  4. Dial back on the sauce. This means less gravy on your meat and roast potatoes, less custard on your Christmas pudding (or none at all if you can handle it) and less cream or syrup on your pancakes. Making this small change can shave up to 100 calories off your daily intake.
  5. Lay off the (other) sauce. This means booze. If you’re a drinker, try to keep it in moderation these holidays. Stick to wine and spirits if you can. Vodka, lime and water is a great, low-fat drink, as is a gin and tonic. Avoid eggnog, beer and mulled wine, and mix your wine with about 1 part water to 4 parts wine – after one drink you won’t notice the difference, and it’ll cut down your calorie intake from alcohol by (unsurprisingly) a fifth.
  6. Avoid sitting. If you’re standing, you’re more likely to wander around and not ‘chain snack’ from a snack plate. Your body will also burn more calories, and eating standing up creates a feeling of having ‘eaten on the run’ which might not be entirely pleasant, but tends to curb appetite. Have a drink of water handy and eat slowly to avoid indigestion.
  7. Leave those sweatpants at home! It’s simple – if you wear jeans with a belt, you’ll feel fuller sooner. You’ll also be more conscious of your body image, and this might motivate you to reign in your eating a little. If you’re going to feel guilty about indulging over the holidays, you may as well use it as a tool to motivate you!
  8. Keep yourself busy – if there are kids around, offer to take them outside to play in the snow, or sit inside playing games with them. The snack food will probably all be eaten by the kids, or by the other grownups in the next room. Offer to walk to the store to pick up supplies. If you spend the morning doing things like running errands or chasing after pre-teens, you’ll burn a lot of calories and avoid the snacking.
  9. Balance eating with walking. A person weighing 170 pounds will burn 150 calories during a brisk 30 minute walk (more if you’re heavier, less if you’re lighter). A full Christmas dinner with moderate portions is around 800 calories. Now, you can’t spend your day walking, but if you take two 45 minute walks on Christmas day you’ll burn off over half of that, and you’ll be down to your desired calorie intake in no time. The cold will also make you burn more calories. Look for places where there are lots of hills or forest paths, as these burn more calories. Walking through snow is also good exercise.
  10. Remember to have fun. Nobody likes a grump who won’t partake of any holiday fun because they’re on a diet. Quietly decline treats like mince pies and extra pudding, but there’s no shame in slipping up a little over the holidays. Just remember the above walking tip, and mentally try to ‘undo’ as many of those calories as possible over the next few days!
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