TOPS Offers Tips for Sensible Holiday Eating and Imbibing
The holiday season doesn't have to create havoc on your weight-loss goals, says TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization.
Follow these 10 strategies to navigate the eating season for a great time without a great gain.
Don't Go Hungry
Arriving at a party on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster that can lead you to overeat and make poor choices. Have a light snack of a low-fat, high-fiber food a half-hour before you go, such as yogurt, an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, a piece of string cheese, or vegetables with low-calorie dip. This will help curb your appetite and make it easier to control your intake.
There's no need to ban your favorites; decide what you want to try and then set a limit. Cakes, cookies and pies are available year-round, so indulge in small portions of only the best seasonal, holiday foods. Just a taste of something special can be enough to quell a craving without going overboard.
Offer to bring a low-calorie dish or platter to holiday gatherings. By preparing something that you know fits into your meal plan, you'll have at least one healthy item on hand and other guests will likely appreciate it. Your hostess may also be grateful for the lessened stress of preparing multiple dishes.
Slow Your Pace
Eat slowly until you are satisfied, not stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to signal that you're feeling full, so enjoy each bite and give yourself time to know when you've had enough. You'll likely consume less than usual.
Mind Your Beverages
Drink plenty of water to help feel full and hydrated. Adding a twist of lemon or lime to sparkling water is a lively alternative to alcohol and coffee drinks, which can actually make you feel sluggish.
Alcohol can also impair your judgment and make it difficult to stick to healthy eating resolutions.
If you do choose to imbibe, select light beers and wines, and limit your intake to one or two drinks per occasion.
Drink high-calorie seasonal favorites, like egg nog, punch and full-fat hot chocolate, in moderation -- or steer clear of them altogether.
Make a pact with a friend that you will support and help keep each other on track. Don't hesitate to lean on each other if you need encouragement to resist tempting treats or power through a workout. Remember, you're not the only one refraining from holiday overindulgence.
It's easy to let workouts fall by the wayside. If you aren't able to set aside time each day for exercise, commit to at least 30 minutes three days per week.
Many people continue their regular walking or jogging schedules year-round, but also consider walking in malls or the building where you work.
Indoor pools, weight-workout rooms, tracks and basketballs courts are commonly available in community facilities and schools.
Municipal ice skating rinks, both indoors and out, offer a change of pace from the usual routine, while cross-country skiing and hiking let you build up your strength while enjoying nature's beauty.
Maintaining a workout routine also can help you manage holiday stress by releasing "feel-good" endorphins and provide a "time out" from worry and harried thoughts.
Make adequate sleep -- seven to eight hours -- a priority, especially during this busy season. Getting enough rest can help repair your body, keep you mentally sharp and enable you to be more productive.
Friends and Family
Make friends and family a priority. Although food and drinks can be a big part of the holiday season, they don't have to be the focus. Set aside time to spend with good friends and family, making memories that make the holidays worthwhile.
Keep Your Perspective
Be realistic and maintain a long-term view of your weight-loss goals. Overeating one day won't make or break your plans; just aim to eat healthy and in moderation the next day.
Dieting can be especially difficult during the holidays. Focus on maintaining your present weight and look toward the new year as a fresh start.
Remember, there will be many more holidays to enjoy. Employ these tips and come January, you will feel as good about yourself as you did before Thanksgiving -- one more reason to celebrate.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original, nonprofit weight-loss education and support organization, was established more than 61 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success.
Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., TOPS promotes successful weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness education and support from others at weekly chapter meetings.
TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada, and several chapters in Europe.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.
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