How To Have Your Holiday Cheer -- Without Losing Your Waistline
But that doesn't have to be the case according to Margery Lawrence, chair of the nutrition department at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, CT.
Lawrence says there are numerous ways to get your holiday cheer without losing your waistline and it starts with planning ahead.
"Make sure you eat less and well during the other meals of the day or even the day before," she explains. "Don't attend starved because that makes it harder to control eating."
After arriving at holiday parties, portion control becomes very important. Nothing racks up calories more than filling up huge plates with large portions. Lawrence says that one way to control portions is by looking at 1⁄2 cup and one cup measures to see how small a portion should be. And, if the temptation to try everything at the table comes around, simply eat even smaller portions.
Buffets are the biggest culprit at the holiday party, but they don't have to be.
"If it's a buffet, do not graze," says Lawrence. "Don't just stand there and put food in your mouth directly from the table. Make a plate and move away from the table when you have filled your plate!"
By actually filling the plate, Lawrence says you become more aware of what and how much you're eating. When directly eating off the buffet, it's common to lose track of what you've consumed.
She advises party-goers to be aware when they are no longer hungry. "Don't feel you have to clean your plate - ever! If you are about to take seconds, rest for a little bit. Get up. Think about how you feel and ask yourself if you are full." Lawrence explains.
Curbing your appetite is just the first step, however, to shedding off those extra pounds. It's also important to keep up with your regular exercise routines.
"Whether or not you already have well established exercise habits, make sure you actually schedule time into your day for your exercise. Nothing is like having an entry in your Palm Pilot for exercise," says Rich Ray, chair of the kinesiology department at Hope College in Holland, MI.
Ray advises being flexible during the holiday season when schedules become crammed. One of the worst things to do is blowing off 5 p.m. gym trips for an office party at the same time. Instead, Ray advises waking up an hour earlier and running before work or even during lunch.
In addition, it's a good idea to mix up the exercise routine a little bit in order to avoid slacking during the busy season.
"If you usually run four days per week, try running once, swimming once, and lifting weights twice. The novelty of the new exercise will hopefully be a stronger motivator than the 'need' to do something else during your normal exercise time," Ray explains.
Ray also says that exercising and family commitments can be combined to save some time. For example, by hauling kids up a hill a couple times, a sledding trip can be just as beneficial as a jog. Taking the family snow shoeing, cross country skiing or on a family backpacking trip also will provide exercise while spending quality time with loved ones.
For those who can't find the time to exercise, Ray says it's important to remember that even if you find yourself too bogged down to exercise during the holiday season, that is no excuse to stop exercising completely once the season is over.
"If you do fall off the exercise wagon, there\'s no reason not to climb back aboard once your post-holiday routine is established," Ray says. "You\'ll find your stride again before you know it."
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