Healthy Weight Loss Revealed
Diet Friendly Holidays

Holiday diet tip: Strive to maintain, not gain

Do you give up on your weight loss program when Thanksgiving rolls around? During the holiday season there are so many wonderful and delicious things all around that make it extra challenging to stick to a weight loss plan. The average Thanksgiving dinner has more than 30 Weight Watchers points!

With so much food everywhere many people just give up their weight loss program during the holidays. After gaining weight during the holiday season, they promise themselves to get back on track with New Years resolutions to lose weight, exercise, and set new goals for the coming year. There really is no need to give up during the holidays, just give yourself a little wiggle room by not focusing so much on losing more weight, but trying not to gain any weight either. Not that it is impossible to lose weight during the holidays, but you will feel less stressed and it will be much easier to stay the course if you set your mind on "Maintain, don't gain."

Since your weight loss plan has worked so well for you so far, just make some modifications to allow yourself to enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty, backsliding or giving up and regaining the weight you worked so hard to lose. Here are some tips and substitutions to help you though the holiday season. Remember, the key to enjoying the holidays while watching your weight is to focus on not gaining more weight rather than trying to lose weight during this time.

Survival tips for the holiday season

Prepare it yourself - This is key if you want to control the fat and calories in the foods you are eating. Volunteer to host the holiday dinner. When you are preparing things substitute high fat for low fat, especially dairy products. For example, use skim or soy milk along with a little trans-fat free butter substitute when you make your mashed potatoes. People will probably add more butter at the table anyway.

Lean meat - A boneless turkey breast is low in fat and calories and is so much easier to handle, prepare and store than a full bird. When you eliminate the skin and dark meat, what you are left with is very lean. Fat in ham or roasts vary so go lean whenever possible.

Exercise portion control... then exercise - Don't be a turkey and gobble till you wobble. Avoid going back for seconds and stop when you are satisfied, not stuffed. Go easy with the gravy, rolls and butter, too. And don't sit down to dinner starved. Take the family out for a nice after dinner walk and look at all the beautiful decorations around the neighborhood or double up on your workouts for a couple of days.

Drink lots of water and limit alcohol - Water makes you feel fuller and if you volunteer to be the designated driver, you can easily skip the high calorie eggnog (which you may not even like the taste of anyway). Remember, every glass of wine has 2 Weight Watchers points and they add up fast.

Remember why you are trying to lose weight - When you think of why you made the choice to lose weight and how far you have come, you won't want to gain ten pounds or more during the holiday season. Weight is so much easier to put on than take off so continue the lifestyle choices that help you reach your weight loss goals.

Cooking Lighter Holiday Favorites

Green Bean Casserole - You can use a low fat cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup, skim milk and skip the french fried onion rings altogether to make this holiday favorite a little leaner. Spray a non-stick pan with olive or canola oil and saute real onions. Use a little bit of bread crumbs or crushed Fiber One or bran cereal for the crunchy topping.

Sweet potatoes - Ditch the marshmallows and create simple sweet potatoes from scratch. Take a couple of sweet potatoes, peel and cut into chunks. Add a dash of cinnamon, a spray of Parkay, a small squeeze of honey and some crushed pecans. Microwave for about 7 or 8 minutes or until tender and delicious.

Pudding Pie - Instead of the incredibly fattening apple or pumkin pies, simply make some sugar-free jello chocolate pudding made with skim milk for dessert. Try it with fresh bananas and fat-free whipped topping. If you absolutely must have pie, it can also be used to make a chocolate cream pie. Find one of the many fat-free pie crust recipes on the internet or try a phillo pastry for crust.

Macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and pasta - Although I think pasta should be skipped altogether during the holidays, for many they are a holiday tradition. Lasagna is one of my favorite foods and I would make it the highlight of another day's dinner and serve it with a salad or veggies, not as a bit player in a holiday feast. Also, with all the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and who knows what else on the table, there are more than enough carbs to go around, so skip these if you can. If you absolutely must have a pasta dish, make it high in fiber and low in fat. Substitute low fat or non-fat dairy products and use whole wheat pasta in your favorite recipes. For cheddar cheese, I greatly prefer low-fat over non-fat because of the flavor and texture. Non-fat cheese lacks the stretchy, gooey cheesy goodness we love. For non-gooey dairy such as cream cheese and sour cream, use the fat-free versions.

Have a great holiday!