Just because the holiday season is approaching, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to gain weight. Making a decision to maintain or lose weight during the holidays and stick to it. Make a few subtle changes to your lifestyle, especially your diet, to avoid unwanted weight gain this holiday season.
1. Skip Traditional Christmas Cookies
Make an effort to give away traditional holiday cookies instead of eating them, or alter your recipe to make cookies more nutritious. Sugar cookies, frosted cookies, fudge, and chocolate-cover pretzels are loaded with empty calories and sugar. Try healthier peanut butter protein cookie recipes, which contain eggs, egg whites, applesauce, oats, vanilla protein powder, baking stevia, salt, and baking soda.
2. Drink Water Before Meals
Before heading out to your holiday gathering, drink lots of water to avoid overeating and unwanted weight gain. Drinking water before each meal helps you feel full and eat fewer calories, according to a study published in 2013 in “Australian Family Physician.” Researchers who conducted this study found that drinking about 2 cups of water 30 minutes before meals enhances weight loss in overweight and obese adults. Drinking water with your meal instead of higher-calorie alternatives also helps cut back on calories.
3. Focus on Protein
Since protein helps fill you up and increases your body’s energy expenditure, make sure to eat at least one high-protein food at each meal. Choose lean chicken, turkey, tofu, seitan, legumes, peas, nuts, seeds, egg whites, low-fat milk, plain Greek yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese to boost your protein intake.
4. Skip Breads and Choose Fiber
Eating breads and rolls can pack on calories and pounds. Instead, choose fiber-rich brown rice, quinoa, other whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables — which are healthier carbohydrates packed with fiber. Fiber helps you feel full without it being fully digested or absorbed by your body, making it an excellent choice for healthy weight management.
5. Choose Alcoholic Drinks Wisely
While drinking alcoholic beverages is often a favorite holiday tradition, doing so boosts calories quickly. Shy away from mixing liquor with lemonade, juices, sodas, or other high-calorie sugary beverages. Eggnog often contains over 220 calories in just 1 cup. If you drink alcohol, mix liquor or wine with calorie-free diet soda, sparkling water, or club soda. If you’re a beer drinker, choose light beer instead of regular beer.
6. Substitute Ingredients in Baked Goods
When baking this holiday season, substitute high-calorie alternatives for low-calorie ingredients. For example, use light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese, low-fat milk instead of whole milk, egg whites instead of whole eggs, and evaporated skim milk or fat-free half and half instead of cream. You can also substitute apple sauce, prune puree, or non-fat yogurt for half of the butter, shortening, or oil in recipes.
7. Eliminate High-Fat Meats
While heart-healthy fats found in plant-based oils, avocados, nuts, and seeds are perfectly fine to include in holiday meal plans, avoid high-fat meats, which are rich in saturated fat and contain extra calories. Choose turkey bacon or smoked turkey instead of regular bacon, pick extra-lean ground beef and make sure chicken and turkey is free from skin and breading.
8. Say No to Cream-Based Soups
While soups aren’t off limits during the holidays, avoid cream-based soups because they’re often higher in calories than broth soups. Choose broth-based vegetable, chicken, or turkey soups — which usually contain half the calories of cream-based soups — instead of cream of mushroom, cream of potato, or cream of chicken soups.
9. Skip Traditional Gravies and Dips
You can cut a significant number of calories during the holidays by skipping traditional gravies and vegetable dips. Instead, dip raw veggies in nonfat Greek yogurt and make a lower-calorie turkey gravy by combining fat-free turkey broth, flour, and seasonings.
10. Walk after Eating
Going for a walk after your holiday dinner is an excellent way to bond as a family and reduce your chance of weight gain. A study published in 2011 in “International Journal of General Medicine” found that going for a brisk 30-minute walk immediately after meals aids in weight loss.