Do you rush to the bathroom at parties to scrub away red wine stains? You could actually be raising your risk for permanent staining. Wine's acidity (red or white) can dissolve tooth enamel, and brushing right away can contribute to erosion. Instead, she says, neutralize the acid by rinsing with a glass of water—and avoid staining in the first place by sipping and immediately swallowing your wine, rather than swishing it in your mouth.
2. You eat creamed spinach
While antioxidant-rich produce makes up the main component of this dish, it’s overwhelmed with high fat. Creamed spinach can contain up to 75% of your saturated fat for the day. Stay away from fruitcake, while you're at it. One slice can have more than 400 calories!!
3. You don’t eat before a party
If you know there's going to food and drinks at the office party tonight, you may think it's best to skip your healthy afternoon snack beforehand. It makes sense to arrive at a party a little hungry, but to come starving means a glass of wine and appetizers will lead to one big caloric nightmare. Besides, parties never start when they're supposed to, and you know there’s going to be some gooey, crunchy appetizer that will be your undoing. Solution: Taper your appetite by popping a handful of raw almonds before you leave your desk.
4. You plan your post-holiday cleanse
Advertisements for New Year's cleanses and detox diets will promise to rid you of your holiday weight gain. The problem is, severe calorie restrictions and juice-only plans can keep you from getting the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. If you're looking forward to a fresh and clean start in the New Year, consider a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead.
5. You skip red meat, but scarf down chicken and fish
Red meat has the most saturated fat, but skinless chicken breasts are not far behind—and actually have more cholesterol than red meat. Watch out for salmon, as well, which is full of healthy fats, but fats nonetheless. Even though they're healthy choices, they don't give you a pass to pig out. With all sources of animal protein, keep serving sizes in mind.
6. You stick with your regular workout
This may seem like a great way to combat excess holiday pounds but it could backfire if you find yourself running ragged trying to get everything done and then getting to the gym on top of it all. If your to-do list is already overflowing, don't add stress by forcing in a long workout that may interrupt more important health habits like getting enough sleep. Instead consider breaking up your usual 45-60 minute workout into split sessions—try a 15-minute strength routine in the morning before you hit the shower, a 15-minute walk at lunch and a 15-minute yoga flow to help relax you at the end of the day. You may find you are less stressed and still burning as many (if not more) calories than with your usual routine.
7. You vow to join a gym in January
The New Year is a time for personal reflection and setting goals for self-improvement. It also happens to be when gyms are most crowded, and the staff is busiest signing up new members. If you've been thinking about joining a fitness club, why not use a few of your days off in December to shop around? It is always wise to visit a gym to make sure it will work for you and you may get a better feel for the facilities during quieter hours, when you're not rushed to make a decision. Make sure the hours work with your schedule and the facility has the amenities—like childcare, a family discount, a pool, or personal trainers—that you desire.
8. You give yourself a cheat day ... or days
Maybe it starts with doughnuts at your breakfast meeting, or a cookie swap among coworkers. Then comes the holiday luncheon. By the time dinner rolls around, you figure you've already done enough damage—might as well finish the day off with the richest item on the menu, plus dessert. It's not just the calories that are the problem here, you're also psychologically allowing yourself future food deviations and setting yourself up for failure. Letting yourself splurge at truly special events is one thing, but don't allow yourself to make excuses for each and every mini holiday celebration. Have a plan and don't deviate. If you absolutely must have a dessert, take three bites and step away from the cookies.
9. You go crazy with the olive oil
Olive oil is full of healthy fats, and has no cholesterol and saturated fat the way butter does, so it can certainly be a healthier alternative in many holiday recipes. But before you dip another piece of bread or help yourself to another serving of olive oil-tossed potatoes, remember that it has just as many calories (120 per tablespoon) as any other kind of fat. Two tablespoons a day may lower your risk for heart disease, but more than that could contribute to weight gain.
10. You cook (and eat) lots of “light” recipes
If you can stick with a single serving, using lower fat or sugar can be a good way to keep your calories and fat count low when enjoying holiday treats. The trouble is, many people think to themselves, 'It's healthier or lower calorie, so I can have two or three ... or five of these.' They often end up eating as many calories as they would have if they had stuck with a smaller serving of the real deal. Knowing that piece of pie is rich and full of calories may make you more likely to enjoy every bite of a smaller serving instead of going with a much larger portion of the 'lighter' version.
11. You buy an "all natural" ham or turkey
There may be nothing wrong with meat labeled "all natural"— but unlike "organic" or "antibiotic-free," all natural simply means that your turkey, for example, doesn't contain artificial ingredients or colors, and has been "minimally processed." This term is open for interpretation; for example, poultry can be injected with sodium and water, and still be labeled "natural." (Check the fine print.) If you're concerned about finding meat from an animal that was raised humanely and not treated with antibiotics or hormones, look for a certified organic label—or educate yourself about companies' farming practices and choose a brand you trust.
12. You swear you’ll have "just one"
You know the scenario: Your favorite coworker brings in fresh-baked gingerbread cookies and, to be polite, you have one. An hour later, as your blood sugar crashes, you visit the copy machine … and have another cookie. And the pattern continues, all. day. long. If you do breakfast and lunch right, you won't get those mid-morning or mid-afternoon cravings. If you need something to munch on mid-day, keep little baggies of raw almonds or apple slices with almond butter at your desk.
13. You obsess over (or avoid) the scale all month
So much food over the holidays may cause you to step on the scale several times a day—or to slide it under the bed and swear off until the New Year. Both policies can be detrimental to your weight and to your emotional wellbeing, studies show: If daily weigh-ins give you anxiety, consider cutting back to once a week. And to make sure your results are consistent, try to weigh yourself on the same scale and at the same time of day.
14. You skip breakfast or lunch
Banking your calories by skipping (or skimping) on meals so that you can eat more at a holiday dinner won't do your waistline any good; in fact, it's a great way to trigger overeating. Focus on eating filling, higher fiber foods at regular mealtimes—a fruit smoothie with spinach and protein powder for breakfast, for example, and a veggie-filled salad with lean protein for lunch—so you'll still be able to enjoy holiday meal (and treats!) later without going overboard.