Handling the Holidaze: Simple Ways to Indulge Without Gaining a Pound

Savvy ways to handle seasonal food traps

Ever feel like the holidays are one big food obstacle course? To help you sidestep meal meltdowns this year -- but still enjoy all the merriment of the season-- I've included a few tips from my recent article in Women’s Health magazine. Here, three common seasonal scenarios and savvy strategies to help you better stay on the straight and narrow this year.  

The Destination: Holiday party
The Danger: A boozy environment threatens your waistline (drinking weakens dietary self-restraint) and your dignity the next morning.
The Detour: With alcohol, the goal is to keep both your calories and your buzz under control. Try a light beer, single shot of vodka, gin, or rum mixed with diet soda. This will set you back only about 100 calories, explains Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., registered dietitian. Another option: Sip some champagne or pink Prosecco (it's only about 120 calories per glass and more likely to be sipped rather than guzzled).

The Destination: Your kitchen
The Danger: Nothing smells as good as the scent of cinnamon and sugar-filled holiday treats wafting through your kitchen and "it's easy to think that 'tastes' are calorie-free," says Los Angeles-based dietitian Ashley Koff. But just because two spoonfuls of cookie dough fail to register emotionally doesn't mean they don't count. (In fact, they count right up to 500 calories.)
The Detour: Light a green-apple-scented candle (which studies have shown can reduce appetite) or crack a window to air out the tempting aroma. Have a pan of hot, soapy water on standby and plunge batter-covered beaters and spoons into it once you're done with them. "This protects you from nibbling," says Koff – and makes cleanup easier. When you're tempted by a cookie-dough-laden mixing spoon, remember this: The raw eggs in that dough may contain salmonella, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning and was the reason for the recall of more than 380 million eggs earlier this year.

The Destination: Your family’s annual holiday dinner
The Danger: Variety may be the spice of life, but "the more options there are, the more we want to try," says Koert Van Ittersum, Ph.D., an associate professor of marketing at Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Detour: Offer to bring a healthy dish. Your stressed-out hostess will welcome the contribution, and you'll have a safe go-to. When you visit the buffet, Van Ittersum suggests starting your meal by loading a dinner plate with salad (dressing on the side). Then switch to a smaller salad plate for your main course (studies show we eat less from smaller dishes). Lastly, practice portion control. "Your total amount of carbs should be the size of your fist," says Koff. The same goes for lean proteins, which should be the size and thickness of your palm (no fingers).

How do you handle diet derailing moments? Chime in below!



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