Keep the Pounds Off Yourself – and Your Loved Ones – This Christmas!

Yes, you and your family can enjoy the holidays – including the food – without gaining weight, just by following these simple tips.

According to WebMD, the average American gains one to two pounds during the holiday season. This is not only due to the special foods we love to eat at this time of year, it’s also because the hustle and bustle of the holidays too often interrupts our normal exercise habits. As a result, we put on a few pounds that may or may not come off later.

How can we avoid falling into this trap without trying to stay on a diet amidst so many tempting holiday foods? Dieticians say it’s not hard at all – it just takes a little planning.

For instance, if you’re actively dieting, the holidays are a good time to give yourself a break and shift from weight-loss to weight maintenance. “Allow yourself a few treats and set your goal on weight maintenance so you can enjoy the holiday foods and wait until the New Year to get back on your weight loss plan,” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, Boston University clinical assistant professor.

“In anticipation that you will be eating and drinking more than usual, try to trim your calories and make sure you fit in fitness everyday so you can enjoy a ‘controlled’ feast without the guilt” Blake recommends.

“Scan the buffet and fill your plate with foods that are simply prepared, without sauces or fried, sit down and take your time to taste and savor every bite,” she says.

It’s also a good idea to resist that second helping by waiting at least 20 minutes to allow for your brain to register that you are comfortably full.

If you’re hosting the party, trim calories any way you can without compromising the traditional flavor of the food. This article gives you plenty of great suggestions on how to do this.

Here are other suggestions on how to spoil yourself and your loved ones with great food this Christmas – without gaining a pound!

First, shop smart. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy in your dishes. To shave calories, cut back on the amount of nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter and whipped cream.

Second, consider serving low calorie appetizers such as shrimp cocktails, whole grain crackers with reduced fat cheese, vegetables and lowfat yogurt dips or fresh fruit skewers.

Substitute a healthier dish in place of a traditional calorie-laden item.  For instance, green beans almandine with a squeeze of lemon is much less fattening than green bean casserole and plain peas or corn is better than creamed varieties. But if your family insists on the more traditional dishes, use low-fat or fat free soups, increase the amount of vegetables and use whole-grain cereal as a topping rather than fried onions.

Remember, simple swaps can shave calories. “Simple swaps of lower-fat ingredients are easy ways to save calories — and no one will even notice the difference” says Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for the television series, The Biggest Loser.

She recommends using chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, and low-fat milk in place of high-fat ingredients. Substitute non-fat yogurt or applesauce for oil in baked goods.

If you want to cut calories without compromising on taste, consider roasting or grilling meat, seafood, vegetables and potatoes rather than frying. For instance, roasted sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a spritz of butter spray are delicious substitutes for creamy casseroles.

Serve smart desserts, such as chocolate dipped strawberries or pumpkin pie made with non-fat evaporated milk. This tastes great topped with fat-free whipped topping and no one will ever know the difference.

Watch out for those fattening drinks, such as egg-nog. Offer your family diet sodas, sparkling water, or a low-calorie punch instead.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you enjoy the holidays without gaining a pound.

But even if you do splurge a little too much, the last thing you want to do is beat yourself up, the experts say. Funnel that energy into resolving to get back to your normal eating and exercise habits as soon as you can.

Most important of all, remember that Christmas is ultimately about the chance to celebrate the birth of Christ with those you love. The food just makes the season a little bit sweeter!


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