But how happy will your holidays actually be if all those extra calories go straight to the part of your anatomy that could least use the extra padding?
Holiday weight gain will be an unpleasant reality for many Americans this year. It is possible, however, to trim the calories and still enjoy holiday merriment. Weight Watchers suggests these four C's to curtail calories at holiday parties:
Some people forget to keep tabs on liquid calories. Since they don't usually make you feel full, it's easy to forget that holiday spirits and cocktails can be highly caloric. To limit liquid calories, keep sugary mixers such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier and Creme de Menthe to a minimum, and opt for lower-calorie substitutions.
For example, instead of a cosmopolitan, which packs 179 calories in just 3 ounces, go for a mimosa that offers just 105 calories in 6 ounces. An ounce of rum adds only 70 calories to spiced tea and is a good replacement for eggnog, which pours on 186 calories per half-cup serving.
Santa Claus isn't the only one who loves holiday cookies. But you needn't deprive yourself completely to avoid looking like the jolly old elf - deprivation can lead to overindulgence. Pick one cookie and savor it. To create a little more cookie control, bring your own renovated recipe, and follow these tips to lighten up these holiday favorites:
-Top it. To reduce the amount of these high-calorie add-ons, sprinkle chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit on top of cookies instead of mixing them into the batter.
-Toast it. Bring out the flavor of nuts or coconuts by toasting them before adding them into the recipe. This will also allow you to use less of them.
-Substitute for it. Egg and sugar substitutes can help reduce calories and fat.
-Shrink it. Cut calories in half by reducing the size of the cookie, so you can still enjoy the flavors of your favorite holiday treat.
Chocolate goes with the holidays like Santa and his red suit. But you'll consume fewer calories and feel satisfied longer if you substitute a long-lasting holiday candy, such as a candy cane, for chocolates. And look for ways to incorporate sensible snacks with a touch of indulgence, such as chocolate-dipped pretzels.
Don't bow to baggy sweaters and stretchy fabrics that make it easier to overlook your figure flaws. You might think twice about grazing at the holiday party buffet if you're wearing your "skinny" jeans. Or buy a party dress or a fantastic outfit that makes you feel great now and hang it on the bathroom door as a reminder that you want to look and feel your best this season. For instant inspiration, you can find tips to dressing "five pounds lighter" on www.weightwatchers.com.
To help managing holiday calories, try this reduced-calorie holiday treat:
Classic Sugar Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup butter
¼ cup Neufchatel cheese
1 cup sugar, granulated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
½ cup fat-free skim milk
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar, colored (for decorating)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place butter and cheese in a large bowl, and cream using an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until batter is pale yellow. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Add about a third of flour mixture and a third of milk to cheese mixture. Mix batter on low speed until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour and cheese mixtures.