The holidays are upon us. And you know what that means? Extra calories lurk around every corner. If you’re like most Americans, you’ll put on a pound or two between now and New Year’s Day.
You might be thinking: so what’s the harm with a little weight gain? Well, according to research at the National Institutes of Health, most of us never lose that extra holiday weight and then the pounds add up year after year.
But with the right plan, it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these 10 simple tips to avoid overindulging this holiday season.
Never arrive hungry
Don’t go to a holiday party when you’re hungry. Eat a nutritious snack beforehand. If you are hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling up your plate.
Focus on something other than food
Chances are the holiday party you’re attending has family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Focus on spending time talking to them rather than eating.
Telling yourself you’ll only eat during the first half hour of the party isn’t going to help. Instead, pace yourself, chew your food slowly and put your fork down between every bite.
Keep track of apps
With many small appetizers and finger foods, it’s easy to lose count of how many you’ve eaten. You can keep track by stashing toothpicks in your pocket. Set a limit and stick to it.
Own the buffet
It can be hard not to overindulge when you’re faced with a buffet. Use the smallest plate available and don’t stack your food. The simplest foods are often the healthiest—think fresh fruits and vegetables—and watch out for sauces and dips.
Watch the cocktails
If you drink a lot, you won’t have as much control over what you eat. So limit your alcohol. Consider sipping on water or club soda if you feel out of place without a drink.
Choose your sweets wisely
Be very selective about your dessert and limit them to small portions. One expert’s personal rule on sweets: if it’s going to have calories, choose dark chocolate which has many health benefits.
Bring your own treats
For potlucks and other parties, offer to bring your own low-calorie treat. And think outside the box: fruit is a tasty treat that most people enjoy.
Avoid tasting while cooking
If you cook a lot during the holidays, try to limit all of those “tastes.” Aim for two small bites during pre- and post-seasoning.
Walk it off
Walking not only benefits you physically, but it can put you in a mindset to be more careful about what you eat. So consider starting a new tradition like a family walk after dinner.