Eat, Drink, and Still Shrink
Last year's six-week food fest started with a holiday potluck. I arrived straight from yoga, hoping downward dogs would steel my willpower. But one look at the mashed potatoes and my sun salutations were long gone. The creamy spuds started an evil domino effect. I'd already splurged, so why not go for quiche instead of crudites -- and a third glass of eggnog? This year I want to celebrate without getting a belly like Santa's, so I asked experts and FITNESS readers for strategies to tackle four of the most tempting diet danger zones. My holidays will be happy and healthy.At the Mall
Sad but true: The food court is full of diet crimes. One of the worst offenders, a supersized cinnamon roll, can have around 850 calories and 34 grams of fat. Eyeing that chocolate chip cookie? Its calorie count is better (about 280), but it can pack as much fat as two fried-chicken drumsticks. A mall snack less likely to ruin your chances of zipping up your little black dress on New Year's is a plain soft pretzel. At around 340 calories and 5 grams of fat, it's a decent option, but it's no superfood.Trim Tactics
Get up and go. You'll beat the crowds if you hit the mall as soon as it opens; plus, the aroma of that 400-calorie slice of stuffed pizza is less enticing at 10 a.m. Wendy McMillan, 35, a teacher in Longmont, Colorado, always prepares herself a healthy breakfast before she heads out for a shopping trip. "If I fill up on oatmeal, fresh fruit, and whole-grain toast, I don't even think about food until early afternoon. By that time, I've already left the mall," she says.
Nail it. Can't bear the thought of standing in one more line? Indulge in a calorie-free splurge -- a relaxing spa pedicure instead of a fattening peanut-butter cookie. "It's dangerous to think of sweets as a reward. Once you start to justify eating unhealthy foods, you're setting yourself up to consistently make poor choices," says FITNESS advisory board member Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center.
Dine in style. Take a break from the hustle and bustle by savoring a real meal in one of the shopping center's restaurants. "You're more likely to find nutritious fare, such as a grilled-chicken or salmon salad with vinaigrette," says Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University. Plus, the setting will be less chaotic than the crowded food court, and research indicates that you tend to eat more slowly and consume fewer calories when you're in a zen dining atmosphere.
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