The average American gains six pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But there's one group that defies that statistic -- professional athletes.
Kobe Bryant isn't plumping up during the holidays. Tom Brady won't be packing on the pounds. That's because they are in season during the biggest eating days of the year. The NFL had games on Thanksgiving. The NBA will tip off its regular season on Christmas. Unlike the rest of us, those professional athletes don't go for seconds and thirds. And we all know LeBron James has never shown up for a fourth.
All kidding aside, we should take a cue from our sports heroes when it comes to the holidays. Their bodies are their business. We'd all be better off if we had that mentality in the six weeks between Turkey Day and when the ball drops. So here are 10 tips to help you eat more healthfully over the holidays.
1. More time to eat = More time to exercise
You need to exercise during the holidays more than any other time of the year thanks to the never-ending parade of parties and treats. Your normal gym routine won't cut it with the increased calorie load. You're going to eat, so kick up your workout. And don't fool yourself. A small slice of pumpkin pie takes 30 minutes of walking at 4 mph to work off. And we both know there's no such thing as a small slice of pie.
2. Be realistic
Keeping in mind that average holiday gain of six pounds, be realistic about your goals this time of year. Forget trying to lose weight. Instead, set your sights on simply maintaining your weight during the holidays. You'll be six pounds ahead of everyone else.
3. Don't hit the party hungry
"I'm not having lunch so I'll have more room for Christmas dinner." We've all said it. But skipping meals to save calories for the big meal of the day is a bad idea. It actually causes you to overeat. Having a small, healthy meal beforehand will help you make better choices later on because you won't feel starved.
4. You booze, you gain
Alcoholic beverages, especially mixed drinks, add extra sugar and calories -- ones you're certainly not factoring into your diet. Plus, alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making it more likely that you'll overeat or reach for unhealthy foods. When was the last time you had a few drinks and went for a late-night green smoothie?
5. Pick your
Love stuffing? Then pass on the mashed potatoes if they aren't your favorite. Make a conscious decision on what you will indulge it and stick to it. Cut back on the things you can live without. That way you can enjoy the holiday foods you love best without overdoing it.
6. Dress for caloric success
Don't show up to the holiday buffet in pants with an elastic waistband. Loose-fitting clothes are a bad idea because you won't feel your stomach expand plate after plate. A snug outfit will help you realize your boundaries. And whatever you do, don't unbuckle your belt.
7. Be a social butterfly
Holidays are a time to connect with friends and family. The more time you spend conversing with others, the less time you'll have to hover over the dessert table. Remember, the more you talk, the less time you have to eat.
8. Fill up the healthy way
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and low in calories. They help you feel full and leave less room for foods high in calories, sugar and fats. They are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals.
9. Bring a better option
No fruits or veggies at your family's holiday gathering, you say? No problem. Bring a fruit basket or tray of veggies and hummus. Make a salad. Find some healthy options that everyone loves and add them to the spread.
10. Donate those extra calories
Get a gift basket full of cheese, caramels and chocolate-covered popcorn from your co-worker? Don't even tempt yourself. Take it straight to a food bank or shelter. Bring those decadent food gifts to the office for everyone to share, so they won't go to waste or to your waist.
-- Elizabeth Watson is an AADP Certified Holistic Health Coach. You can learn more at ElizabethWatsonWellness.com
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