Maintain your willpower and your healthy lifestyle this season by following these South Beach Diet smart-eating strategies.
The South Beach Diet
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holiday season is always filled with tasty temptations, so it's not surprising
that seasonal party fare, including decadent desserts, can lead to overdoing it
in the diet department if you're not careful. Even people who maintain a
healthy weight tend to gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's,
while studies show that those who are overweight can put on 5 pounds or more
during these five festive weeks. But you can stay on track by continuing to eat
regular healthy meals and snacks and by keeping up your exercise routine
throughout the holiday season. It's the best way to control your hunger and
you'll be less inclined to reach for that extra cookie or piece of pie or go
overboard at the buffet or dinner table.
Start every day right.
It's all too easy to lose sight of
a healthy eating plan at holiday time when the stresses of shopping and party
planning begin to take their toll. An important way to sustain your energy and
avoid overeating is to never skip breakfast. Studies show
that people who skip a morning meal tend
to eat more poorly throughout the day than those who eat breakfast, and they
also exercise less. The best breakfast consists of some lean protein and fiber.
Both help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling satisfied until at
least mid-morning, when you should enjoy your first snack of the day. Consider
an omelet made with chopped vegetables, reduced-fat cheese, or salmon. Or, on
those days when you must resort to a grab-and-go breakfast, combine some
fat-free Greek yogurt with some blueberries and sliced natural almonds or pack
a smoothie made with silken tofu and mixed berries.
Don't skimp to "save up" for a big, multi-course meal.
meals and snacks so you can eat more at your holiday dinner is a strategy that
almost always ends up backfiring. You'll be much better off eating a healthy
breakfast and lunch, as well as a protein- and fiber-rich mid-morning and
mid-afternoon snack, so you won't be famished when you do sit down to eat. If
you don't have time to prepare a healthy snack, enjoy a South Beach Diet
100-Calorie Snack or Protein Fit Cereal Bar. Holiday time
is not about making food sacrifices. In fact, by eating a healthy breakfast and
lunch in addition to your holiday dinner, you'll keep you blood sugar stable
and prevent cravings. When dinnertime rolls around, you'll find that
taking small helpings of your favorite holiday dishes is far more satisfying
than overdoing it.
Eat before a party.
you're heading to a holiday party and you're concerned about losing control
around the canapés and other hors d'oeuvres, have a snack consisting of some
lean protein (like some reduced-fat yogurt or a couple of slices of turkey
breast) and a fiber-rich carbohydrate (like some fruit or a few whole-grain
crackers) before you head out. This smart-eating strategy will help keep your
blood sugar levels in check and temptation and cravings at bay. If you're
really worried about what might be served at the party, ask if you can bring
your own healthy party fare, such as a platter of crudités with hummus or a
Evaluate your food options.
Before you even pick up a plate at any food-filled gathering, survey the scene and know what your options are. Make a mental note of the different selections, and then seek out the dishes made with the healthiest ingredients. Look for lean meat, poultry, or seafood mains and healthy vegetable and whole-grain side dishes, and take reasonable servings of each. Be sure to steer clear of dishes that are loaded with cheese, coated with cream sauce, or prepared with bad carbs like white flour or white sugar. If a choice of plates is available, choose a small one rather than a large one; it's a good way to keep your portions in check.
Make South Beach Diet–friendly dishes.
Whether you're throwing a holiday event or bringing a dish to contribute to one, the best way to ensure that there's South Beach Diet–friendly fare available is to prepare your own South Beach Diet versions of your favorite recipes or create one of the healthy and delicious dishes from The South Beach Diet Parties & Holidays Cookbook. Try our healthy stuffing, butternut squash purée, sweet potato and zucchini latkes, pumpkin pie made with a whole-wheat phyllo crust, or our pomegranate punch — they're all crowd-pleasers!
Go easy on the alcohol.
For many people, seasonal cocktails, wines paired with holiday dinners, and champagne flutes clinking at midnight on New Year's Eve are all a part of the holiday festivities. While enjoying an occasional cup of holiday cheer is fine on a healthy diet, it's important to drink moderately and never on an empty stomach. When you do imbibe, do so while enjoying an hors d'oeuvre, while eating a meal, or right afterward. Women should limit their alcoholic beverages to one a day and men to two a day. Be sure to pass on any cocktails made with sugary soda or simple syrup and enjoy a glass of red or white wine or champagne instead. Cheers!
Enjoy dessert...in moderation
What's a holiday meal without a slice of pie or cake for dessert? Enjoying a decadent dessert on a special occasion can be really satisfying, and there's no need to feel guilty about it afterward, especially if the rest of your meal was filled with nutritious offerings. Simply request a small serving of dessert and savor it slowly. And keep the "Three-Bite Rule" in mind: Take three bites and then put the dessert aside for a few minutes; you'll likely find that you are satisfied with just that amount of sweetness. After the holidays are over, resume your regular healthy eating habits and make a concerted effort to get back to your daily exercise routine.
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