Get Festive Without the Guilt

Tips to avoid the holiday bulge

Get Festive Without the Guilt

The battle of the holiday bulge is a well-worn cliché, but the same cycle of fun, frivolity, and indulgence almost inevitably brings the familiar remorse when we step on the scales in the New Year. Try these tips so you can enjoy the season’s bounty without the guilt.

December is a festive time of year—full of fun, friends, and family. And, oh, did we mention indulgence? Sadly, all that holiday frivolity can come back to haunt us when we face the new reality revealed by our bathroom scales in January.

Trouble is: losing the holiday weight is apparently a whole lot harder than gaining it—and not nearly as much fun. It has to make you wonder if there’s a better way. Instead of just surrendering to the shortbread, butter tarts, eggnog, cocktails, mashed potatoes with gravy … consider these waist-saving tips.

Fill up with healthy food before you go

Instead of arriving at your seasonal soirée starving, load up on low-calorie, high-nutrient foods before you leave the house. You’ll be much less tempted to hang out at the food table nibbling mindlessly.

Tip: Try some of these foods that’ll leave you feeling satiated—and feeling good about yourself:

  • raw veggies
  • fresh fruit
  • Greek yogurt
  • healthy fats such as raw nuts and avocado
  • complex carbs such as quinoa
  • eggs

Did you know?

The less effort we have to put into eating (as in standing right next to the buffet table), the more likely we are to overeat, according to research at Cornell University in New York.

Use a smaller plate

As the optical illusion theory suggesting that a small plate fools us into thinking we’re eating more gained headway, restaurateurs were moved to return plate sizes to previous smaller norms. Now, more recent studies have debunked the optical illusion theory of plate sizes: researchers have concluded that when people are hungry, they’re less likely to be fooled by the plate size, more likely to realize they’re eating less, and more prone to overeating later. Choosing a smaller plate but filling it only once remains good advice.

Tip: Skip the platter-sized dinner plates and load up on an appetizer or dessert plate instead—but limit yourself to one plateful (hopefully, you followed our first tip and filled up before you left home).

Did you know?

The Delboeuf illusion suggests that a dot surrounded by a large ring is typically perceived to be smaller than the same-sized dot surrounded by a small ring. This led researchers to believe that we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve eaten more when served on a small plate as opposed to a large plate.

Mind the little things

Don’t let the little things get to you is good advice, especially when you’re snacking. That’s when the little things really do add up. Some of our favourite appetizers are loaded with fat and sodium and our most-loved treats are packed with fat and sugar, so watch what you nibble.

Tip: Sample your favourite Christmas goodies, but leave the rest on the tray. Offer to bring a fresh fruit and veggie tray so you’ll have a safe place to snack.

Did you know?

A small glass of eggnog (1 cup/250 mL) delivers 343 calories, 21 g of sugar, and 19 g of fat (of which 11 g are saturated). And that tiny little butter tart you’re nibbling with your eggnog can weigh in at 330 calories with 13 g of sugar and 22 g of fat!

Drink a lot—of water, that is!

Seasonal celebrations almost always include our favourite alcoholic bevvies. But drinking alcohol can cause dehydration because, as the porter in Shakespeare’s Macbeth says, alcohol promotes “nose-painting, sleep, and urine” (don’t ask us what “nose-painting” is). Drinking plenty of water will help keep you hydrated, may help curb your calorie intake, and may even help reduce any hangover the following day.

Tip: If you love to raise a glass or two, make sure you slip in a glass of water between toasts. And when it comes to the toast, sipping a glass or two of wine is a much better option than calorie- and sugar-laden cocktails. The health benefits of wine are an added bonus.

Did you know?

Drinking water isn’t only good for you, but it can also help manage weight. Researchers studying the effects of simply drinking water before meals in relation to weight management say that drinking water may help people shed pounds. The simple reason: water has no calories and fills up the stomach, making people less hungry.

Sneak in some physical activity

We know: crazy schedules at this time of year make fitting in our regular workouts almost impossible. You may have to get creative, but be sure to include some added caloric output to match your added caloric input.

Tip: Try some of these sneaky ways to squeeze in some physical activity during this hectic season.

  • Wake up a bit earlier to sneak in a short workout before the day begins.
  • Pack your gear for a lunchtime power walk.
  • Do a wall-sit while you wait for the bus, train, or plane (instead of sitting on the bench).
  • If you’re on the escalator, do some calf stretches (or better yet, get off and use the stairs!).
  • Waiting for the turkey to roast? Do some push-ups against your countertop.

Did you know?

Studies show that even two weeks of physical inactivity can diminish the effects built by regular fitness activities.