Avoid those holiday extra pounds

It’s that time of year again. There are holiday parties and big dinner celebrations. We’re often busy running around and fall back on fast food to get through the day. It’s not surprising that so many people gain a little extra weight around this time of year.

It’s not just the feasting, although that is bad enough. No, it’s all the little things. Someone brings cookies to the office. Fudge at a little company get-together. Shrimp as a holiday buffet.

And that’s not all. In our busy running around preparing for the holiday, we are more likely to stop for a quick bite along the way at a fast food restaurant, the food court at the mall or at a chain restaurant to reward ourselves for getting through it all.

But wait, there’s more. There’s the kids holiday concert or performance where they have concessions to raise money. Social gatherings at work, neighborhoods, churches and spouses’ social events. And food will be there every time.

Here are some ideas to help your holiday battle with the bulge.

Make It Ahead

If you plan quick, healthy meals at home, you’re less likely to make that stop at the drive-through. A slow cooker is great for this. You can put things together, turn it on, and have a hot healthy meal ready by the time you get home.

Can’t I Eat Healthy While Out?

In a word, no. It is true that more restaurants are offering healthier fare. But chances are that seemingly healthier meal will still have more calories than you would have eating at home. Their portions will be larger and you’ll be more likely to finish it even if you’re full. Also, you still don’t know exactly what’s in it or if it’s the same as you would make at home.

Don’t Deny Yourself Too Much

There you are, facing the buffet table at the holiday party. There are a wide range of foods, some of them quite tempting. You see a tray of mini-quiches, something you know you really love to eat. But, you think, they’re so loaded with fat. So, you decide to be good to yourself and stick ti the dried fruits, nuts, olives and a cracker or two. Sadly, you feel unsatisfied later, after you’ve washed that food down with a bit of alcohol. So, you reach for those mini-quiches anyway. End result: you’ve eaten more that if you had gone for what you really want in the beginning. Hey, it’s a holiday. Go for the goodies. Just concentrate on taste rather than volume. And go easy on the alcohol.

Don’t Over-Treat Yourself

Those delicious-smelling coffee drinks seem like just the thing to pick you up during those marathon shopping trips. But remember, you’re going to be consuming more calories at holiday events and some of those drinks pack a walloping 500 calories or more. Instead, go for the skinny latte made with skim milk. Skip the sugar and reach for the no-calorie sweetener. You’ll get a nice jolt without all the extras.

Write Down Your Indiscretions

Grazing is something that happens a lot during the holidays. But you’re not a cow or sheep, are you? Keep a small notebook and pen with you at all times, something that can slip into a pocket easily. Then write down everything you eat. Yes, every cookie, chocolate, mini-sandwich or cocktail shrimp. Just being more aware of what you’re eating will make a big change in your behavior.

Work Out Your Stress

Walking or doing an extra workout at the gym will not only help burn off those extra calories, but it will help reduce your stress level. You see, it works like this: when your boss yells at you, your body sees it as a threat and initiates the fight-or-flight response, pumping adrenaline into your blood stream causing your arteries to constrict and your heart to beat faster. But you can’t fight your boss nor can you run away. You swallow your anger and that response will quickly lead to high blood pressure. But when you exercise, it burns up that adrenaline, causing your blood vessels to relax and your heart to operate more efficiently. Even if you’re out of shape, a walk around the block can do wonders.