Just when you’re finally getting your weight under control, boom! It’s the holidays, and food is everywhere. From home to office, from restaurants to camps (not to mention parties and family events galore), it seems as if the summer holiday season is one long, tempting food fest designed to make you gain weight.
Add in the emotions of the season and experts say the holidays can cause you to toss your weight loss efforts out of the window. But it is possible to keep the holiday food fests from ruining your weight loss plans. Gorging on favorite holiday foods can widen your waistline, but they don’t have to spell dietary disaster. In fact, some of your guiltiest pleasures may be good for you.
At this time of year, you can hardly escape hearing that thousands of people in the GCC gain about 5kg from the constant celebrating. What’s worse is the football world cup season and Ramadan is also around the corner. True, only some people probably pack on that much, or more, with holiday foods. For the rest of us, the weight increase is actually a lot less, however.
Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Eating regular meals and snacks every day makes it easier to resist overdoing it at festive events. When you occasionally skimp on meals because you’re busy shopping, wrapping, and baking, chew on a protein-packed snack, such as lowfat yogurt or reduced-fat cheese, to blunt your hunger before gathering with family or friends.
At parties, pile your plate with lower-fat foods to limit high-calorie splurges. The following top picks have fewer calories, fat, and sodium and more fiber than other holiday fare:
• Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice, and quinoa
• Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
• Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
• Meat and poultry without the gravy
• Salad greens (lightly dressed)
• Fresh fruits
‘Good for You’ Holiday Foods
You know that lower-fat foods are the wisest choices no matter what time of year. But the benefits of holiday fare don’t end with fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
As long as you mind your portions, these perennial favorites are wise choices. For fewer calories, prepare them with an artificial sweetener used in cooking, such as Splenda. Here’s what they have to offer, besides calories:
Applesauce and Apples
Heart-healthy fiber does indeed keep the doctor away. Look for unsweetened applesauce to get the fiber without the sugar. Bake apples with the skin to get a potent flavonoid called quercitin, which helps prevent heart disease.
You get the most bone-building calcium and protein from hard cheeses.
Cranberry Sauce (Unsweetened)
Cranberries spell trouble for bacteria that cause most urinary tract infections. If you like sweet cranberries, add a minimal amount of sugar, or artificial sweetener.
Seventy percent dark chocolate contains the most flavonols — helpful plant substances that help decrease cholesterol.
Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this veggie. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.
Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber. Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar. Use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.
Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories.
Don’t Let Holiday Foods Get the Best of You
Curb calories from so-called naughty foods by taking tiny portions. The first few bites of any food provide the most pleasure. Once you’ve finished your treat, fight the urge for more.
Follow these simple everyday tips, and enjoy your holiday guilt free
• Sit far from buffet tables, candy dishes, and cookie-laden platters.
• Excuse yourself from the dinner table when done eating.
• Keep your mouth busy by talking with friends and family.
• Chew gum or suck on a sugarless breath mint to prevent picking.
• If you’re able, regularly brush your teeth (presumably after every larger meal) as the taste of toothpaste dulls taste buds.