By Sarah St. Lifer, Refinery29
Every year, it's like clockwork: As soon as we stow away the Halloween garb, the twinkling Christmas lights flicker on, and the festive displays are flanking every single storefront. There's zero use in trying to avoid it, which is why we R29ers embrace the many perks (hello, winter sales!) of the unseasonal arrival of the holidays.
But, let it be known that it's not all candy canes and eggnog around these parts - especially when we're all expected to show our mugs at a slew of stylish soirées to celebrate the season. Between the dinner parties and cocktail hours, who doesn't find themselves gorging on every hors d'oeuvre and martini that passes by? So, we enlisted celeb nutritionist and the author of Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads, Christine Avanti, to clue us in on how to avoid the winter bloat, a.k.a. the grown-up version of the freshman 15. If you follow these 11 tips, you can bet you'll finally retire those belly-hiding babydoll dresses once and for all!
Think Outside The Box
"This not only means avoiding prepackaged and processed foods, like dehydrated salad dressing and frozen perogies, but also cutting the calories from your holiday favorites. Read up on how to make healthier ingredient substitutions, or find new recipes like my butternut squash soup or fire-roasted salsa verde, paired with Skinny Chips."
Eating Out Doesn't Have To Mean Pigging Out
"Between the office parties, book club meetings, and out-of-town guests, it's even harder than usual to monitor our intake with all the social obligations. First, I suggest you start the day off with a low-fat and lean protein paired with a healthy carb (they exist!), and eat regular snacks every four hours. This plan of attack will keep you from crashing your metabolism. You see, a lot of people make the mistake of saving up their calories by not eating all day before a big night out. Then, they feel justified in feasting indiscriminately - a big no-no!"
Stop Eating When You're Full
"I know, it's easier said than done when the dining room table is laden with freshly made, steaming dishes, some of which are reserved for special occasions such as these. However, ask yourself: Is it really worth it if you can't button your shirt or have to consume a whole bottle of antacids? Didn't think so. Instead, practice mindful eating. Not only will you enjoy all the pleasures of that lovingly cooked meal, you'll have more leftovers for last-minute meals."
Become A Skinny Sipper
"Bet you never knew that the average holiday beverage clocks in at 300 calories! And, if you plan on attending multiple celebrations, you really can't afford to sip shamelessly. In order to retain that girlish figure (while still indulging in holiday cheer!), reach for a bottle of Skinny Vine wines. The Slim Chardonnay (86 calories), Mini Moscato (95 calories), and Thin Zin (89 calories) taste delish and contain up to 35% fewer calories then most wines. Bonus points: This vino also makes for a fabulous gift that won't wear out your wallet!"
The Many Joys Of Fruitful Giving
"Everybody has at least one in their circle of friends - the 'food pusher.' She's super skinny and manages to put away pies, cookies, candies, and cakes without piling on the pounds. This year, don't make up some silly story about how you can't make it to her event. Rather, show up with a healthy hostess gift, like Edible Arrangements. The beautiful fruit baskets mimic a bouquet of flowers and are fairly inexpensive. The fruit is always fresh, perfectly chilled, and sometimes dipped in chocolate (only halfway, though - another wonderful calorie saver!)."
Cook Like A Skinny Chick
"I love this trick! Use a ridiculously small tasting spoon while gauging your recipes as you cook. Keep it with you throughout the day and avoid using those extra large wooden spoons you see in every kitchen. While you're at it, enlist family members to taste your delectable creations instead - that way, you skip the calories and get to share those culinary joys together."
Enjoy Active Family Time
"The holidays are about getting together with loved ones, and rather than sitting around the table in a turkey coma, awkwardly running out of small talk and mindlessly helping yourself to a third serving of dessert, how about a game of touch football, visiting Rockreation's rock wall, or simply going for a walk in the neighborhood? Not only will physical activity and mental distractions (like Cranium), keep you from over-eating, they should also ease any strained family dynamics."
Turn Holiday Shopping Into A Marathon Calorie Burn
"Did you know that combing your fave shops for two hours burns about 350 calories? So, head to the nearest mall and buy those gifts from stores on opposite ends of the building. The more you move, the more fat and toxins leave your body."
Give It A Rest
"Some people try to squeeze every ounce of partying into the holidays. The truth is, getting enough sleep is key to overall health and wellness, not to mention your ability to maintain your ideal weight. Let's not burn the candle from both ends this season - instead, let's cherish the time outside the office and use it to balance out our lifestyle. Sleep well, eat well, and enjoy what the holiday has to offer, without the drama."
Buff Up And Buddy Up
"Those gym visits are typically the first items we cancel as the busy holiday season rolls around. My advice: Don't ditch - find yourself a workout buddy who's in the same boat. If we're not accountable for our actions, we're more likely to blow 'em off! Knowing that you have a friend waiting for you will increase your chances of getting the job done. If you can't find a friend that belongs to your gym facility, do an outdoor hike, run, or power walk together. If you live in a cooler climate, use a workout video such as Zumba or P90X to turn your living room into a fitness studio."
Oops, You Over Did It - So, Get Back On Track
"Don't starve yourself to make up for yesterday's over-eating - it will only slow your metabolic rate. Use those leftovers to make some healthy snacks that will have your metabolism humming."
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By Sarah St. Lifer, Refinery29