While we’re all anxiously anticipating the holidays, I would like to offer a guide to Surviving the Holidays: a series of tips throughout the season to fend-off holiday weight gain. Some simple preparation will enable us to maintain our healthy habits, while still enjoying the company of our family, friends and the over-abundance of holiday goodies.
Tip #1: Drink to your health.
We all know how tempting those Starbucks holiday drinks can be in their festive red holiday cups. But did you know that one Starbucks 16-oz eggnog latte has almost TWICE the calories of a full-size Snicker’s bar?* Yikes! Don’t even get me started on all of those alcoholic holiday cocktails…
According to a team of Harvard researchers,
Sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas, etc.) are a key contributor to excessive weight gain and obesity…
In fact, soft drinks are now the number one source of calories in Americans’ diets. Source
Most people gain weight from calorie-laden beverages because they forget to compensate for those extra calories! The truth is, you can still imbibe at your holiday gatherings. You just have to be smart about it.
Try sticking to one glass of wine and nursing it throughout the night. A standard glass of wine is a mere 100 calories, and is packed with antioxidants, which may help protect your body during those heavier holiday meals. Even better, try a wine spritzer: Add club soda to half a glass of wine, which will keep you on track and hydrated. If you prefer a light beer, that would be fine, too. The key is to avoid those sugar-laden holiday cocktails (eggnog, punch bowls, etc.) which contain unknown amounts of sugar, fat, and hard alcohol.
If you absolutely must have that glass of eggnog, give up something else during the night. Pass on the bread, that second helping, or dessert (or just have ONE cookie, and make sure you make up for it in your next workout!). It’s all a game of give-and-take, and we just need to remember to hold ourselves accountable during the holidays— a time when many of us let loose with our “all or nothing” mentalities. (I know I’ve been guilty of that!!)
If you are hosting a holiday party, try making a healthier alternative to the traditional favorites. You could offer a healthy hot chocolate or a spicy chai latte: using almond milk, spices and a natural sweetener. You could also make some sangria, using organic wine, club soda, and lots of fresh fruit. With natural sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar, no one will miss the processed sugar!
And of course, if you can avoid alcohol all together, that’s your best bet. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and may cause you to eat more than you would otherwise. Water, hot or iced tea, coffee, and club soda with lime are ideal options. As long as you have a drink in your hand, and are enjoying the company around you, NO ONE will notice that you’re not drinking!! And if you feel pressured to drink, but would rather not, a club soda with lime looks exactly like a vodka tonic, and no one will know the difference!
And remember– the holidays are about enjoying time with friends and family, so focus on that and enjoy!