Ten Ways to Control Your Calories during the Holiday Season

Contributed by Ann Valenti, Abington YMCA Assistant Wellness Director

For many of us, the holidays seem like one long, luscious buffet that starts around Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after the New Year. After all the eating throughout the holidays, that is when we’ve gained too much and have made our New Year’s resolutions to lose weight! So, how about trying to make that resolution easier by simply trying to maintain your weight during the holiday season (and if you happen to lose a little, that’s OK, too!)?

These tips will serve you well, and you can also employ them throughout the year:

1.    Eat well-balanced meals before you go out.  Many people try to avoid eating prior to a party, with the hope that they can “save the calories” for the party. Unfortunately, not eating before the party will probably cause you to eat much more once you’re there.  Instead, focus on eating well-balanced meals and drinking plenty of water in the hours before the party to gradually fill up. You’ll be less hungry and less likely to over-indulge.

2.    Remember, your drinks have calories, too. Drink fewer alcoholic beverages such as beer or Kahlua, which are loaded with calories.   Substitute spritzers, diet soda, and spirits with a diet mixer, or other low calorie drinks.  You may not need a designated driver, either!

3.    Substitute foods strategically.  Start your party eating with healthy offers such as carrots, celery, cauliflower, strawberries or other fruits or veggies. These will start to fill you up while you are mingling and keeping busy. You may not eat as much of the “richer” foods later on.

4.    BYOHD.  Bring Your Own Healthy Dish!  When appropriate, offer to bring your own healthy dish to share with others…then you’ll be guaranteed at least one healthy menu item.

5.    Choose your plate strategically.  If you have a choice, opt for a smaller plate, and spread the food around on it, instead of piling it on.  Your eyes will tell your stomach that you’re eating a full serving.

6.    Avoid wearing oversized or elastic-waist clothing to a party.If it’s too comfortable, you may be inclined to eat more. The more snug your waistband, the more you will be reminded to eat less.

7.    Try chewing gum after you eat at the party.  It may help you avoid picking up the food that’s being offered around you.

8.    Focus on friends and conversation. Actively take your mind off the food and concentrate on the companionship at the party. The food isn’t the only important part of the holidays!

9.    Chew small bites of food thoroughly.   Remember to wait 20 minutes after eating your portion before deciding whether you want to eat more. 20 minutes is roughly how long it takes for your brain to send signals to your stomach that you’ve had enough.

10. Continue exercising throughout the holidays…it’ll help burn off those extra calories that still managed to sneak in, and you’ll still feel fit!


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