‘Tis the season of indulgence – and all too often, weight gain.  Research in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the scale can creep up by at least a pound (if not more!).  That doesn’t seem like a lot of excess weight, but the fact is if you don’t lose that pound every year they can add up quickly!

Here are 7 tips for combating the weight gain while still enjoying the holiday season:

1 – Indulge in less.  With all of the eating opportunities: parties, holiday gatherings, office treats, and outings, change your mindset to take less on your plate.  Try your favorite holiday fare, but be aware to take smaller servings sizes – and make this a social time versus an array overeating episodes.

2 – Eat regular meals. Stick with a regular schedule of eating – regardless of your after-work plans, evening party going or weekend party throwing.  By eating every 3 – 4 hours your won’t allow yourself to get too hungry and overeat when the vast array of food is in front of you.  The name of the game is appetite control (it works!).

3 – Say “no” sometimes.  It’s perfectly fine to miss the annual cookie exchange or holiday drinks every Thursday night this month.  By saying no to one or two events this season, you’ll save unwanted to calories and make more time to indulge in sleep, holiday card writing or creating a new healthy recipe at home.

4 – Feast on plants.  Unleash the herbivore in you this holiday season by planning plants into every meal.  Aim for at least 2 1/2 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruits per day.  Not only are colorful plants fiber-filled, but they offer your cells relief from holiday stress by giving them a powerful dose of antioxidants. From morning smoothies filled with kale, berries and flax seeds to lunchtime bean burritos or quinoa-stuffed peppers to dinnertime salads loaded with beans, greens and a sprinkling of nuts.

Try Curried Brussels Sprouts on your holiday table.

Curried-Brussels.jpg

What to do: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take two cups of Brussels sprouts, cut off ends – if large ones, you can cut them in half. Rinse them in cold water.  Toss them in a baking dish with 2 medium garlic cloves, diced, 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of curry powder and a pinch of salt.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, uncovered.  Take out, toss and cover and replace for 10 minutes. Repeat until sprouts are tender.  

Nutrition Information (per 1/2 cup serving): 93 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 62 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugars, 2 g protein

5. Savor sweets for special times.  Minimize the processed sugar in sweetened coffee drinks (i.e., peppermint lattes), regular soda and fruity festive cocktails and instead savor one homemade cookie, sip a small hot cocoa or a fruit-sweetened dessert.  Remember, there are about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon.  Look at how many grams of sugar are in your favorite sweet indulgence and you can determine how many teaspoons of sugar you are eating in one sitting!

6. Hydrate with water.  How much water you need depends, well, on YOU.  Each of us has different water needs based on gender, age and activity level (and even where you live – warmer versus colder climates).   A good rule of thumbs is sip water throughout that day, and have a cup before, during and after a workout – as well as in-between alcoholic libations!  The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get about 13 cups per day and women drink 9 cups a day – but that varies with every person. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s water guidelines.

7. Swap out salt for spices.  Who wants to feel bloated and puffy over the holidays, especially in your fancy new holiday duds?  One of the biggest culprits of swollen fingers and toes – and waistlines, is too much salt.  Of course, we need salt every day, but not more than 2,300 mg – that’s 1 teaspoon – the average person eats double that amount!  Flavor your food with herbs and spices like turmeric, curry powder, cumin, coriander and cayenne – and a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor.  By exciting your senses with spices – you’ll never even miss the extra salt.   Plus, they contain a ton of benefits for a lifetime of good health for your heart, blood vessels, circulation, digestion and diabetes defense.  Here’s more on spices from my friend, The Spicy Gourmet.

I’d love to know what tips work for you.  Happy and healthy holidays!

-VSR