The holiday season is upon us, and that annual cycle of indulgence officially begins next weekend. You know what I’m talking about…
Those mini Halloween candies, consumed in maxi quantities.
The carbohydrate and butter festival, more commonly known as Thanksgiving.
The endless holiday parties filled with hors d’oeurvres, cocktails and cookies, followed by Christmas dinner, often a re-run of the November carbfest, where perhaps the only healthy item, (the turkey) gets replaced by it’s much fattier pal, the ham.
And if you happen to celebrate Hanukah, don’t forget about the latkes; fried potato pancakes smothered in applesauce and sour cream.
It all culminates on the last night of the year, with one more celebration, filled with champagne and the resolution to start dieting to get rid of the 5 -10 pounds that just snuck up on us over the last 2 months.
Sound familiar? With a little research, we have turned up some ideas to enjoy the holiday season while avoiding the weight gain that comes with it.
Halloween, or How to Trick Yourself into Bypassing the Treats:
Fact: the average Halloween bucket holds 900 pieces of candy, or about 9,000 calories!
You cannot avoid giving out candy on Halloween, or allowing your children to trick or treat. Giving out crudités to the neighborhood children is not an option.
If candy is your vice, avoid buying it until the last minute. That way, the temptation is not there staring you in the face every time you open the cupboard.
Don’t plan on giving out your favorite kind. If you can’t refuse that Snickers bar, try giving out something slightly more resistible, like Sweet Tarts (which do absolutely nothing for me, but kids seem to love them!)
When the kids come home and are sorting out the candy, take a small bag and fill it with a few pieces for yourself. When it’s gone, it’s gone. No sneaking theirs!
Good choices: 6 mini Tootsie Rolls: 140 calories, 18 mini Twizzlers 135, or 7 Starbursts 143 low fat calories.
3 fun sized Snickers pack 219 calories and 2 Reese’s peanut butter cups, have 176 high fat calories.
Thanksgiving and Christmas or the Festival of Fat:
If you are an avid reader of Indigo Jones, you have likely seen some of our holiday recipes. They are filled with butter and brown sugar. They are delicious. They are also fattening. It’s okay to indulge once in a while, but practicing moderation is key.
Nibbling all day leading up to the meal can do as much damage as the meal itself. Not eating all day, can lead to uber-binging at dinner. Try to eat 2 low calorie, low fat meals during the day, and if possible, cut back a little on the days leading up to the holiday.
On the big day, start with the turkey. It is low calorie, and full of protein. Select your side dishes judiciously. Either pick a couple that you can’t miss, or take a tiny serving of everything. If there is a salad, or a simple vegetable dish, opt for a larger helping of that.
Good choices: 3 oz. of white meat turkey without skin, 134 calories,
A whole baked sweet potato 112 high fiber calories.
Only ½ cup of stuffing, packs 190 calories, ½ cup of mashed potatoes with gravy, 132, vs., mashed sweet potatoes for 92 (no marshmallows included) pumpkin pie: 229 vs. pecan pie 452. Want a little whipped cream with that? Add 52 high fat calories. Not sounding so terrible? Bear in mind that very few of us only eat ½ cup of anything!
Grazing at a cocktail party can leave you hungry later; yet well over your ideal calorie limit. Liquor is the devil in many ways. It is high in calories (eggnog packs 264 calories per cup!) and frees your inhibitions, making over-eating as likely as dirty dancing with the I.T. guy at the office party. (Trust me, I’ve seen both happen often enough to say this one with confidence!)
Avoid fruity drinks, or punches, where the mixers themselves are diet disasters. Opt for wine, or a something like scotch on the rocks, which gets sipped slowly throughout the night. Alternate sparkling water with cocktails to avoid over indulgence and give you a feeling of fullness.
Mini horsd’ouevres are little calories bombs. Assume the average small bite is worth about 100 calories each, especially if it looks brown and crispy. Opt for vegetables or seafood, which usually provide filling protein and fewer calories.
Good choices: 6 shrimp 33 calories, smoked salmon sushi 33 calories per piece, 2 tablespoons salsa 10 calories, or hummus at 50 calories spread on vegetables, not pita chips.
A glass of wine is only 100 calories, but a frozen margherita is 350. Sipping spirits is an average of 70 calories per oz.
Not to be Debbie Downer, but that crème brulee latte at Starbucks you had as a pre- partly pick-me -up cost you 350 calories!
Try to fit exercise into your day. I know, you’re too busy. That’s why I do mine first thing in the morning before other obligations get in the way. I never bound out of bed at 6 am thinking, “oh goodie, I’m going to run this morning!” but boy do I feel great when it’s over. Just 30 -45 well-spent, high intensity minutes at the gym make a big difference! I also avoid public transportation wherever possible. (I don’t own a car, so that is not an option) I walk everywhere! By the time I would have walked to the subway, waited for the train to come, gotten jostled by strangers and walked to my destination, I have spent a similar amount of time outdoors walking, clearing my head and enjoying music on my iPod, Oh, and by the way, I burn an extra couple of hundred calories without even trying.
The point of holidays is enjoyment. It is important to savor the flavors of the season and celebrate with family and friends. A little indulgence is part of the fun. But treating your self well isn’t synonymous with filling your body with things that are bad for you, and sitting around like a slug recovering from it. For me, zipping up that sexy dress on New Year’s Eve without wearing 2 pairs of Spanx is a great reason to celebrate!
Don’t worry if you slip up. We’ll be posting lots of diet and exercise tips in January to help you get back on track! Enjoy!!
photo: Glasshouse Images