Health

Beat the holiday bulge

Enjoy festive feasts without feeling the waistband pinch

‘Tis the season for chocolates, champagne cocktails and uncomfortably tight waistbands. This year, though, you can indulge a little without the recriminations. We rounded up some of the latest research to help you savour the season of plenty without piling on the pounds. Here’s how:

Fill up first. Before you head to your New Year’s feast, dig into a salad or even half a grapefruit if you’re on the run. In one Pennsylvania State University study, for example, women who munched on a large low-calorie salad as a lunchtime appetizer ate 12 per cent less of their entire meal than when they had no salad as a first course. And California researchers discovered that people who ate half a grapefruit three times a day before meals – but didn’t change their eating habits in any other way – lost more than three pounds in 12 weeks, giving you the perfect excuse to dish up a serving of Grapefruit-and-avocado salad – sans olive oil.

Enjoy a little, not a lot. Treat yourself to high calorie mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie – but have a sliver, not a slice. A recent U.S. study found that portion control was the most effective way to keep unwanted pounds at bay, even more so than lowering fat consumption or increasing exercise. (For best results, try all three approaches.) To tackle portion distortion, read Are your meals super-sized?

Snack on an apple and a carton of skim milk. Laval University researchers determined that Canadians who jacked up their fruit intake and chose low-fat milk products put on less weight over six years than those who didn’t. Plus, snacking on healthy treats means you can indulge in a few seasonal sweets. How ’bout Southern eggnog made with skim milk, for instance? Yum!

Load your plate with the best holiday foods. Look for low-fat, protein-packed turkey, shrimp with appetite curbing omega-3 fatty acids and sweet potatoes jammed with filling fibre. (Balsamic mashed sweet potatoes, anyone?) If you’re near the bowls of nibblies, opt for the unsalted almonds or filberts with good-for-you monounsaturated fats. For more tips, read Stop seasonal pounds. Finally, don’t forget the best bulge-beater of all: exercise. Click here for winter workouts the whole family will love.