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You think youâre busier than usual during the holidays? Consider how slammed Nutrisystemâs weight-loss support call center isâcall volume increased 1,100 percent during last yearâs holiday season. We asked Meghan Nichols, RD, a dietitian and manager of research and development, about the most common questions their experts get, so you can benefit from their advice, too.
Whatâs the best alcohol choice to drink?
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Nicholls recommends liquor-based drinks with low-cal mixers. Rum and diet soda, vodka and Sprite Zero, or tequila and club soda all run around 100 calories. Wine is a good option tooâlighter glasses have around 100 to 120 caloriesâbut Nichols cautions that itâs easy to overdo the portion. âThe real diet danger with drinking isnât just the calories in your glass,â adds Nichols. âAlcohol lowers your inhibitions, which can cause you to make poor food choices. Plus, it can interfere with how your body metabolizes other foods, making you more likely to store fat.â To avoid post-party regret, stick to one drink. Sip, savor; and then switch to water.
When Iâm going to a party, what should I eat the rest of the day?
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Hereâs what you shouldnât eat: nothing. âIf you walk in to a party famished, itâs setting you up for disaster,â says Nichols. âMaybe eat slightly fewer calories than usual, and focus on veggies and lean protein.â For breakfast, she recommends an egg-white omelet with veggies and cheese ,and a slice of whole-grain toast. For lunch, have a salad piled with non-starchy veggies (think broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes) and a protein like turkey, tuna, or chicken. Then nosh on a nutritious snack about 30 to 60 minutes before your partyâa combo of fiber and protein, like fruit and string cheese.
What should I eat at a holiday dinner?
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If thereâs one simple rule to follow, itâs this: Fill half your plate with veggies, provided theyâre not smothered in butter or cheese. This will help you fill up and avoid eating more higher-calorie carb or protein options. For the rest of your dish, split it between whole grains and lean protein. If thereâs an indulgent-looking recipe you have to try, take a tablespoon or small scoop. âPeople overestimate how much they need to eat to feel satisfied,â says Nichols.
I just want to maintain my weight over the holidays.
First, bravo for being realistic. This outlook may actually keep your weight loss on track in the long runâas opposed to focusing on shedding pounds, being disappointed, and then falling off your plan. If you can, find ways to lighten up family recipes and sneak in more activity (mall walking, even) to offset additional calories you might be eating. Another trick: Weigh yourself at least once a week, so you can note any small gains early on. If youâre mindful about what you eat, being healthy during the holidays may not be as hard as you fear; Nutrisystem members usually lose half a pound a week on average instead of their usual one to two.
What are some easy snack and meal ideas on the go?
A little planning goes a long way, says Nichols. So donât run holiday errands on an empty stomach; at the very least have a light breakfast, like a yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, and a piece of fruit. Stash nuts in your purse for an energy-boosting snack while you shop. At the grocery store, buy bagged salads, pre-cut veggies, and cans of soup so you can pull together a nutritious weeknight meal without a lot of effort. If you can, cook a larger casserole over the weekend and freeze extra for a simple dinner.
The scale went up, but I thought I was being good. What happened?
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âDonât get too down on yourself,â says Nichols. âIf youâre trying to be conscious, then youâre definitely better off than if you hadnât tried at all.â She advises leaving it in the past and not letting your disappointment derail your future efforts. Some people find troubleshooting the problem helpful. Overdid it at your work party? Evaluate where you went wrong and plan what you could do differently next time. For example, if it was the snacks that did you in, vow that youâll only eat a couple next time.
How do I say ânoâ to friends and family who offer unhealthy food?
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People feel so guilty saying no out of fear of offending someone, Nichols acknowledges. But chances are youâre overestimating how much your response bothers them. Donât worry about making excusesâjust start with a simple, âNo thanksâ or âThat looks great; Iâll try some later.â If you want to ensure you have something healthy to eat, ask the host in advance if you can contribute to the festivities.
How do I handle people I havenât seen in awhile commenting on my weight loss?
âWe are all so bad at taking compliments!â says Nichols. Genuine flattery can feel uncomfortable for some. If you think the praise is sincere, simply say âthank youâ and smile. Let the compliment continue to motivate you toward your long-term goals. Donât weaken it by answering, âThanks, but I still have 20 pounds to goâ or âThanks, but itâs taken me a really long time.â Sometimes, however, a compliment can really be a dig, like âOh, youâre getting too skinny,â or âDonât offer her dessertâshe doesnât eat anymore.â In these cases, shrug it off and change the subject.