Thursday, December 9

5 Stupid and Smart Ways to Not Gain Weight This Holiday Season

'Tis the season of spreading good cheer and spreading waistlines. We have all heard it before --  the average person gains one pound a year during the holidays. That is, except for French women, who apparently don't gain weight, ever.

One pound isn't so bad. What is bad is that most people never lose that pound and then continue to gain a pound each year afterwards.

There is no shortage of articles telling women how not to gain weight during the holidays.  Some are practical; others are, well, simply stupid. Below are a few of my favorite stupid suggestions and my common-sense alternatives. They work for me, and I hope they'll work for you too.

Stupid Suggestion #1: Avoid Alcohol At Parties. 
Telling people to avoid alcohol at a holiday party is like telling women inside of Nordstrom to avoid the shoe department. Ain't gonna happen.

Susan's Suggestion: Imbibe wisely. Light beer and wine have the fewest calories; sparkling drinks like Prosecco are festive yet pretty low in calories. Mixed drinks generally have the most calories, but if it's what you're really craving, then have one, just one. Got it?

Stupid Suggestion #2: Chew Gum to Avoid Eating Too Much.
Chew gum at a holiday party? You want to look classy and glamorous at a holiday party not like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.  

Susan's Suggestion: Hold a Glass of Sparkling Water in Your Hand. Sipping on sparkling water or tonic water with lime will prevent you from eating all night long while still looking elegant. Just don't drink too much of the bubbly sparkling stuff, or your belly will be rumble-bumbling all night too.

Stupid Suggestion #3: Look Up Calories Before You Eat.
Ah, yes, won't you look sexy at your holiday party when you whip out your smart phone and say to the hostess, "Um, wait a minute, I need to look up how many calories are in that bacon-wrapped scallop."

Susan's Suggestion: When you're at a party, scan the food offerings before digging it. Overall, try to select the least fattening foods -- those that are not fried, smothered in cheese, or glistening with oil. Allow yourself one sensational indulgence: maybe it's a meaty crab cake or a slick slice of peppermint cheesecake. Once you've made your choice, leave the guilt behind, and enjoy.

Stupid Suggestion #4: Exercise More During the Holidays.
Telling busy women and harried moms to exercise more during the holidays is setting them up to feel more guilty. 

Susan's Suggestion: Exercising more during the holiday season is a laudable goal; it's also impractical for most women. Instead, try to stick with your current exercise regime. If you don't have one, then consider adding quick ways to burn calories -- take the stairs instead of the elevator, play outside with your kids, take the dog for a longer walk. 

Stupid Suggestion #5: When baking holiday treats such as cookies, light a green apple scented candle which can reduce your appetite. 

Susan's Suggestion: Forget the green apple candle, (Does anyone even own that fragrance?) or any candle, for that matter. How often do you get to enjoy the aroma of spicy cloves and sweet vanilla bean? Have some faith in yourself. You can bake and smell cookies without eating an entire tray. Right? If not, then employ Stupid Suggestion #2. I prefer wintergreen or peppermint.

If all else fails, and you end up gaining that unwanted holiday weight, then read this post and plan on making a lot of soup in January 2011.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help prevent weight gain during the holidays? Please share them with us!

Photo credits:
Cooking Light magazine, November 2010
Flickr Creative Commons: KonRuff, twotoneatl


Elizabeth said...

This is great advice, Susan! I found myself shouting "exactly!!" at the screen when I read the part about burning a candle scented with artificial, disgusting, stinky green apple (eewwwwwwww!)

Heather (Heather's Dish) said...

i'd say the biggest thing for me is making time for ME...if i'm not stressed then i'm likely to make smarter choices!

love this list :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great tips!



Unknown said...

Even without knowing exactly what will be served, we generally have an idea so I decide ahead of time that I'll go the first hour and only have something to drink. And when I do eat, I'll only make one visit to the food area. I also decide what I won't have (no dessert this time or no cheese or nothing fried). Then I can feel comfortable that I have a plan and can enjoy myself and not feel guilty.

The candle thing ????? :-)

Matt Stone said...

Ah yes, the age-old belief that eating more makes a person gain weight and eating less food will make you lose it.

World's leading obesity researcher Rudy Leibel, after 40 years of research says...

"We don't think weight can consciously be regulated."

Short-term perhaps, long-term no.

Here's by far the best article that has been written on holiday eating this year...

Nicole said...

My favorite part of this is combining #2 with #5. I'm sure that is some sort of health and safety violation though. Happy Holidays!

Ammy Belle said...

This was brilliant! Just brilliant! Thanks for making me laugh today! :)

Joanne said...

Haha these are awesome. I always wonder at those ridiculous magazine articles that tell people to eat a smaller meal before you leave the house so that you'll eat less (usually that just means I'll eat two meals) or other crazy suggestions. Yours are much more realistic.

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Great post. :)

ElizabethQ said...

Susan, I absolutely LOVE this post!It's just what we all need. And it's so realistic and down to earth. Yes, we are all human and can cave, but your tips are going to come in handy when those moments come to us this season.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Brilliant suggestions, Susan. My tip - evaluate the food to see if you're really hungry for it. Don't just eat a cookie because it's in front of you.

The Food Hunter said...

Great post...I love your suggestions!

Liz the Chef said...

Please, let me be reading YOUR article next holiday season! Terrific post -

Stephanie Weaver said...

I often bring a dish to share, so that I know I can definitely eat that dish. Being gluten-free (and now vegan) means that more stuff is off limits if I want to feel well the next day. The best thing is to walk by the entire table and decide before you pick up a plate what you REALLY want to eat. I used to just take a spoonful of everything, and not everything is good or worth the calories. Great tips Susan!

Peggy said...

Love all of this great advice! Definitely realistic suggestions!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Ha! I'm going with the "eat soup in January" approach!

Titut said...

Susan, I have another idea that is 100 % working (at least to me :D). Put on braces during festive season and guarantee you won't be able to eat as much then you won't gain some weight :D. I Really enjoying your cooking blog and looking forward to see you at my cooking blog called Nomads Cooking Recipe.

Cara said...

Great post! I think the only piece of advice I would add is to remember that "the holidays" are really only a select handful of days - say, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas, perhaps a holiday party thrown in there, and New Years Eve. I think a lot of people get into the mindset that "the holidays" are every day between Thanksgiving and New Years and use that excuse to overindulge the whole time. Just because someone's brought a platter of gourmet goodies into the office on a random Wednesday doesn't mean you have to eat them just because it's December! I ask myself, if it was a Wednesday in July would I keep picking at that tray? Nope.

diva said...

Haha this comes in real handy! Thanks for this post :) x

Lynda said...

Fun post, Susan! I am all for imbibing with balance, while filing those soup recipes for January and down days between festivities. Have a happy holiday!

Angela said...

What a great post! I haven't been to your site for a while, and after reading this gem, I'm not sure why. I remember my blueberry (turned black raspberry) sticky bun recipe is from you...I'll have to search your archives in the coming week for more great dishes (and smart ways to avoid that extra "holiday cheer"!)

Have a very merry Christmas! (if that is indeed what you celebrate!)

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Lovely post and perfect for the season. :)

Season's greetings and best wishes for a very happy new year.