Americans gain 1-2 pounds, on average, during the holiday season. Although this doesn’t sound like much, research shows that most of us never lose that 1-2 pounds. Year after year this holiday weight accumulates, leading to gradual increases in weight and weight related problems. But the holidays are HARD! It begins on Thanksgiving and doesn’t really stop until after New Year’s…holiday parties, cookies, pies, family dinners, alcohol, candy…
So how do we resist all of that food and stay in control of our diets during this time? Many of us dread the holidays for just this reason- it’s not easy to pass up on seconds or thirds of Grandma’s mashed potatoes or Aunt Betty’s pecan pie. But even as good as all of that food tastes going down, you’ll feel so much better knowing you’re in control of your diet during this season.
Here are 8 tips to help you stay on track, yet still enjoy all of that goodness!
- Don’t forget to exercise – Just because the grandkids or Aunt Susie are visiting for a week doesn’t mean that you have to skip your workouts the whole time. Staying active is crucial in keeping those extra calories at bay. But extra workouts aren’t going to make up for extra calories.
- Be generous – Give the gift of food. If you love to bake at Christmas, go for it! Just make sure that all of those goodies aren’t sitting around your kitchen, calling your name. Give them away- take them to the office, give them as gifts, take them (and leave them) at holiday parties.
- Healthify holiday foods whenever possible – Is there a healthier version of your favorite dishes out there that taste the same (or even better)? Look for some new recipes, or try some healthier substitutions in the recipes you already use – could you use coconut oil in place of Crisco in your Christmas cookies? Healthy food doesn’t have to taste like it! Beware: a common mistake is to eat large portions of foods you think are healthy- but healthy foods have calories too.
- Don’t deprive yourself – Not allowing yourself to eat anything “bad” until Christmas Day, or skipping breakfast so you can gorge at dinner is a sure way to overeat big time. Try having one treat a day instead of eating a dozen cookies on “Eat Day.” Eating a good protein rich breakfast is crucial to avoiding overeating later in the day.
- Use a smaller plate – If you know you can’t resist getting seconds, or thirds, try filling up a smaller plate. Not only will you naturally consume less calories, but you won’t feel deprived.
- Never go to a party hungry – If you’re starving when you arrive, you’re much more likely to overeat. Have a light snack before you go so that food is not the only thing on your mind.
- Listen to your stomach – not your eyes! If you listen, your stomach will tell you exactly when it’s time to take a break from the buffet.
- Eat mindfully – It might sound weird, but when many of us eat, we aren’t paying attention to our food. We’re talking, reading, watching TV, or hurrying to get it down so we can get on to the next task or plate. Slow down. Think about each bite, and really enjoy and savor it. Chew slowly and really taste it. Not only does this make eating more enjoyable, but this gives your stomach time to tell your brain when it’s full, so you don’t blow past the point of being full and wind up feeling like a stuffed turkey.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!