Food

Post-Holiday Gain? 4 Ways to Recover

Get back to your healthy eating and exercise plan after the holidays.

'Twas the season of office parties, grand family dinners, and gourmet gift baskets. In other words, a season to test any dieter's willpower. By adding just 400 calories a day over the holidays (that's two large handfuls of party mix), you're looking at an extra two pounds of body fat in 17 days, says Bonne Marano, a certified personal trainer. So as the merriment draws to a close, here's how to get back on track to healthier habits in the New Year.

Don't get discouraged by weight gain 
Even if you overdid it, it won't destroy your health goals. "Accept the setbacks," says Marano. In fact, you may unconsciously reduce your intake as the holiday season winds down. "When you don't realize you're eating all those cookies, that's automatic eating," says Wendy Wood, Ph. D., professor of psychology at Duke University. But when those cocktail party invitations stop coming, so do the temptations.

Up your fruit and vegetable intake
Ideally, consume at least 5 fruit and vegetable servings per day. These vitamin-rich foods boost your fibre and antioxidant intake and help you feel full. Plus, they won't make a dent in your SmartPoints budget! A tip: Replace that mid-afternoon cola with an orange as a nutritious midday snack.

Pre-arrange exercise time 
You'll stick to a regimen if you schedule exercise ahead, says Brad Cardinal, Ph.D., associate professor of sport and exercise psychology at Oregon State University. Try to get in 30 minutes almost every day. Wear a low-cost pedometer (it counts footsteps) or sign up for a charity walk/run to stick to a plan.

Resist depriving yourself 
Focus on what you're going to eat rather than what you're not. "It sounds indulgent," says Colleen Thompson, R.D., nutritionist. "But concentrate on ways to feed yourself now. It helps you to stick to healthy eating habits." For example, don't skip a nutritious, fibre-rich breakfast, like oatmeal or a half of a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter. It can help prevent overeating later.