Want to wake up on New Year’s Day without regretting all those cookies, latkes or bubbly holiday toasts? You can, with these 10 ways to sidestep the season’s “naughtiest” waistline threats with “nice” alternatives.
Naughty No. 1: Two-fisted eating and drinking.
Nice: Keep one hand free when you’re at get-togethers. An appetizer in your right hand and a drink in your left guarantees you’ll down more calories, faster.
Naughty No. 2: You’re cooking fatty or fried dips, dishes and desserts.
Nice: Create a gorgeous veggie or fruit dish. One report found folks who bring produce-based dishes to parties are seen as better cooks and – get this – better people! Roast autumn vegetables; thread fruit on skewers or toss frozen raspberries or pomegranate seeds into a fruit salad; top lightly steamed asparagus with olive oil and toasted almond slivers.
Naughty No. 3: Letting the buffet table tell you what to eat.
Nice: Survey the offerings first. Three out of four partygoers take 66 percent of their food from the first three items on the buffet table. When high-fat and high-calorie fare is first, that works out to 31 percent more food! Check out the whole spread before digging in; scope out one or two “treats” for later.
Naughty No. 4: Showing up hungry.
Nice: Munch six walnuts before you arrive. Crunching about 70 calories’ worth of fat, like the good kind in nuts, 30 minutes before a meal squelches hunger so effectively that you’ll eat up to 36 percent less. Twelve almonds, 20 peanuts or a shot glass of pine nuts also works.
Naughty No. 5: Crash-dieting between parties.
Nice: Eating three to five times a day. Crash-dieting could trigger cravings and slow your metabolism. Stock your kitchen with quick-cooking, wholesome fare like prewashed greens; frozen salmon burgers; boneless, skinless chicken breasts; canned, low-sodium beans; and whole grains.
Naughty No. 6: Stress.
Nice: Finding time to relax. Ongoing tension from work, the kids, shopping, wrapping gifts and juggling crazy family dynamics at Grandma’s annual Christmas dinner boosts levels of appetite-stimulating cortisol. Physical activity, breathing exercises, yoga, even time with friends, can tame tension.
Naughty No. 7: Skipping workouts.
Nice: A 20-minute interval walk (warm up for a few minutes, then alternate extra-brisk and regular-pace steps) or spending the same amount of time on muscle-building cuts calories and keeps your metabolism burning hotter for hours.
Naughty No. 8: Quenching your thirst with alcohol or sugary drinks.
Nice: Water. Start the evening with two glasses of H20 to keep hunger in check; you’ll eat 13 percent less. Have another glassful with each alcoholic drink (women get no more than one a day; men, no more than two), provided you’re not the designated driver.
Naughty No. 9: Over-the-top cooking shows.
Nice: Changing the channel. Watching Rachael, Nigella, Alton and the gang is fun, but skip food shows before heading to a party. One report says viewers downed 40 percent more chocolate after seeing a food show.
Naughty No. 10: Denial (really!).
Nice: A little treat. Don’t be a Scrooge. Savor small helpings of holiday favorites like a spoonful or two of Aunt Edy’s candied yams, one of your co-worker’s homemade snicker doodles, a luscious chocolate truffle. Eat slowly, then get back to the real happiness holidays bring, sharing good times with family and friends. Hit the dance floor, join the kids making snowmen or playing touch football, and chat up a partygoer you’d like to know better. That’s how happy new years are made.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.