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Top Tips to Hold off Holiday Pounds

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Holiday celebrations are in full swing – party buffets, the onslaught of office treats, homemade cookies and candy, alcohol, and rich, sugary drinks seem to be everywhere. Year after year Americans gain a little bit of weight during the holidays, and despite New Year’s resolutions to take it off, most of the weight stays on.

These six AICR tips can help you make your plan – and follow it - for a healthy, weight-gain free holiday season:

  1. Ditch the Sugary Drinks
    Soda, fruit punch, sweet cocktails and rich coffee drinks add oodles of calories, but don’t keep you full. Instead choose sparkling water, lemon-infused or herbal tea or plain coffee to keep calories down and allow room to enjoy a holiday treat. And don’t forget that plain alcoholic drinks add at least 100 calories each – most ring up more calories, especially mixed drinks. So limit alcohol, too.
  2. Step on the Scales
    Regular weighing can keep you honest. Research on people who had lost weight and maintained their new weight showed that regular weighing was key to success. Whether you check your weight every morning or once a week, consistent monitoring – and taking action to stop creeping weight – gets you back on track.
  3. Track It
    Whether you use an app or a pencil and paper, keeping track of your actions helps you stick to your plan. Record how much physical activity you did or what you are eating. How many cups of vegetables did you get in? Whatever steps you are taking to keep the weight off, write it down.
  4. Exercise or Pay Up
    Some creative folks establish a healthy rivalry with a co-worker, friend or family member to reach a goal. For example, if you are planning to walk for 30 minutes every day, make a deal – for every day you miss that goal, you have to pay your partner an agreed upon sum of money, or do a favor or whatever “penalty” you can agree on. If they miss their goal – they pay you. Garnering support for healthy changes from those around you does help, so you might also just simply ask for help – tell friends and family specific ways they can cheer you on.
  5. Stock up on Soup
    Studies show that starting a meal with a low-calorie soup or salad can help you eat fewer calories overall. Keep some broth-based, vegetable-filled soups (around 100-120 calories per serving) on hand to eat before meals at home, or before going to parties or events where you’ll be around rich foods. You won’t be starving when you get there and you’ll make better decisions that help you stick to your plan.
  6. Minimize the Size
    Researchers have demonstrated that how much we eat depends on the amount of food in front of us. Choose smaller plates at parties, pick up the smallest glasses and start out with smaller portions of foods that have a lot of calories per bite. Think New American Plate and fill at least 2/3 of your plate with lower calorie vegetables, fruit and whole grains, leaving just a small place for high fat meats and other high calorie foods. You’ll get plenty of food without breaking the calorie budget.

For more ideas on a healthy holiday season check out Five Secrets for a Festive and Cancer-Protective Holiday Table.

 

Published on December 21, 2012

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