Your secret stash of Halloween candy is finally gone and you even survived the family feast on Thanksgiving, but the constant supply of cookies, chocolates, and other carbs during winter break may cause you to crash and burn.
Here are nine suggestions that should help you stay on track this holiday season:
If you go home for the holidays but Mom and Dad are at work all day, make an effort to hang out with friends or other family members during the break – yes, even if you go out for lunch or coffee. The kitchen can be incredibly tempting when you’re home alone with little or nothing to do. It’s better for your waistline to grab lunch with a friend than it is to veg out on the couch all afternoon with a bag of chips.
If you love Christmas cookies and the appetizers at parties seem to have your name written all over them, be realistic. You’re going to eat! Even so, there’s a lot to be said about practicing moderation. Limit yourself to two or three cookies, not two or three dozen.
Speaking of the appetizers at holiday parties, never go to a party hungry. If you’re famished, you’ll have a better chance of eating everything in sight. Instead, plan ahead and eat a snack before you get there. If the party is a potluck event and everyone is asked to bring a dish, bring fruit salad or mixed veggies so you know there will at least be something healthy to choose from.
If you live in a cold climate you may not want to go outdoors on a snowy day, but it’s possible to burn calories inside, too. Hit the treadmill, do a workout video, or play a game that gets you off the couch with the Xbox Kinect or Wii Fit. If those options don’t work for you, break out the vacuum and clean – even light cleaning means you’re moving and burning calories rather than sitting around, eating.
Whenever possible, use a small plate. Even if you load it up, you’ll be eating far less than you would be if the plate was larger.
In addition to watching what you eat, pay attention to how much you’re drinking. Alcohol – and common mixers like juice, soda and drink mixes – and holiday favorites like egg nog and hot chocolate are loaded with calories. Coffee shop concoctions are often high in fat and calories, too.
Even people who normally avoid the kitchen like the plague have a tendency to bake and cook during the winter holidays. “Come on, just one bite won’t hurt!” is a common phrase this time of year, but you shouldn’t feel pressured into eating something you don’t want. Instead, politely decline the offer without feeling guilty. Sometimes it really is okay to say no.
Don’t use overeating at one party or meal as an excuse to fall off the wagon completely. Even if you completely blew your diet or your eating goals for one meal or an entire day, you don’t have to continue down that road for the rest of winter break.
Most importantly, have fun. Worrying about possible weight gain shouldn’t take up your entire break from school!
Even though studies have found that the Freshman 15 is more like the Freshman 3 and winter weight gain is often far less than the five to seven pounds many people believe, one study did find that the weight participants gained between Thanksgiving through New Year was a significant contributor to overall annual weight gain.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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