Many people are looking for ways to maintain their health goals during the holiday season, which can sometimes prove difficult yet important. For example, excess fat around the abdomen not only makes it difficult to fit into your favorite holiday attire, it also comes with health issues like increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. With all the excesses of the season, though, it often takes mindful intention to make food choices that won’t end up derailing your weight loss goals.
If you’d like to get to the new year without extra weight around your middle, stick to these 6 healthy habits.
Fill Half of Your Plate With Fruit and Vegetables
Headed down the buffet line at the company Christmas party? Keep your eye on fruit and vegetable dishes that can fill up about half of your plate. The USDA’s MyPlate recommendations advise doing this any time of year, but holiday gatherings may offer a unique opportunity to try fruits and vegetables that you don’t typically prepare at home.
As you pile your plate with winter produce, like Brussels sprouts and squash, you’ll not only sample their seasonal flavor—you’ll do your waistline a favor, too. Fruits and veggies are almost universally high in fiber, and numerous studies show that a higher-fiber diet is associated with reduced visceral (aka abdominal) fat.
Skip (or limit) Alcohol
We hate to be a killjoy, but for a slimmer belly, you may want to step away from the bar cart and monitor your alcohol consumption this season. Toasting the season with cocktail after cocktail could contribute to putting on abdominal weight.
Studies have linked high alcohol consumption to higher waist circumference. The reason behind the connection? For starters, alcohol’s drinkable calories don’t tend to satisfy like calories from food, leaving you hungry for more. Plus, your body gives precedence to burning alcohol over burning fat, meaning it may end up storing more fatty tissue in places you’d rather it didn’t. There’s one silver lining, though: one study found that while beer and spirit may have contributed to a larger middle, red wine was actually associated with decreased belly fat.