20 Tips to Avoid Needing Your “Stretchy Pants” Through the Holidays

ai-generated image of a man reclining in a chair eating snacks while wearing stretchy pants. [credit: bing create, dalle]
[CREDIT: Bing Create, DALL-E 3]

The holiday season is here and brings with it office parties, family functions, open houses and more. But, is it possible to enjoy ourselves at social functions while still following a healthy routine? And how do you enjoy the season without adding the extra pounds?

The key is balance and moderation while trying to manage the holiday stress. Here are 20 tips to help guide you through.

  • Don’t go hungry. Just like you shouldn’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, be sure to eat before you go to a party. This will help you make more conscious choices about what you’d like to eat.
  • Get active. Try to get in some activity before a big party where you know you might eat or drink more than usual.
  • Bring a healthy dish. Not only will you look like a thoughtful guest, but you will also have at least one healthy item to enjoy.
  • Use a small plate. Select the smaller luncheon-sized plates instead of the regular dinner plate to help keep you keep control of your portions.
  • Avoid piling. Don’t be the person at the party with a mountain of food on his or her plate. Remind yourself that you can go back for seconds… if you find yourself still hungry.
  • Go through the line last. We eat with our eyes. Wait until several people have gone through the buffet line before you go so the food doesn’t look as visually appealing.
  • Save room for favorites. Ask yourself what items you really want to eat instead of piling up your plate with everything. It is difficult to stick to a diet plan if you feel deprived. 
  • Choose homemade. Try to eat the foods that are homemade. Not only will they (most likely) taste better but might be a healthier choice. If this isn’t an option, try to choose items that are closest to their natural state. For example, choose cheese cubes over the cheese ball or salsa instead of the premixed vegetable dip.
  • Avoid the color beige. Be sure to fill up on colorful foods like fruits and vegetables, and steer clear of the all-beige plate.
  • Chew some gum. Consider chewing a piece of gum after you feel sufficiently full to avoid picking at food just because it’s there.
  • Help clean up. Not only will the host appreciate your help, but you will also burn more calories and distract yourself from additional trips to the buffet table.
  • Partake in activities. The holiday party isn’t just about the food. Enjoy the company and conversation and partake in any activities that might be present, such as dancing or a fun game.
  • Avoid nibbling as you cook. All those calories add up! To prevent yourself from mindless eating while you cook, have a healthy snack available or chew a piece of gum.
  • Chew, chew, chew. When you chew your food thoroughly, you eat slower which allows your brain to tell your stomach you’re satisfied. Not only will this help you consume less food, but you will have an easier time digesting your food as well.
  • Eat a rainbow. When at the buffet line, fill up on fruits and veggies first. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), at its MyPlate.gov website, recommends making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. When choosing your sides, be sure to include a variety of colors. Each color represents a different family of antioxidants, which help our bodies repair themselves. Since fruits and veggies are full of fiber, they will also help you feel fuller for longer.
  • Plan a “speed bump.” Take time to enjoy each bite. Put your fork down between bites and give yourself time to soak in the experience, not only of the food but also the company around you.
  • Send guests home happy. Share the love… and the leftovers.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the party to help curb cravings and offset any alcohol consumption. Beware of the holiday punch, which is surely packed with plenty of sugar and excess calories.
  • Drink responsibly. Be mindful, don’t drink and drive, and don’t let others drink and drive.
  • Avoid elastic. Dress up for the occasion and leave the elastic waistbands at home! Stretchy pants make it easier to ignore your body’s signs of fullness and overindulge.

Remember, it is possible to navigate this time of year without sacrificing your health and well-being. By implementing mindful eating habits, incorporating physical activity into your routine, and prioritizing your own self-care, you can enjoy the festivities and step into the new year feeling balanced, healthier and ready to take on any new challenges that come your way.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday season!

Visit MyPlate.gov for more information and tips for healthy eating.


Posted: December 13, 2023

Category: Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Christmas, Diet, Hanukkah, Health, Holiday, Kwanzaa, Nutrition, Pgm_FCS

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