The holidays are here: Christmas cookies, fancy chocolates, eggnog… the list goes on and on! While many may feel that holiday weight gain is unavoidable, here are some tips for how you can stay on track with your weight goals through the holiday season.
- Eat before you to holiday dinners or parties. Don’t fall into the trap of skipping breakfast and lunch to “save your appetite” for the big meal… you’ll be ravenous by the time the big meal arrives and will end up gorging yourself. What should you eat beforehand? Good quality protein (think organic poultry, beef, pork, eggs), healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, nuts) and veggies will keep you feeling satiated through the day and you won’t be tempted to overconsume at the gathering.
- Limit your alcohol intake at holiday gatherings. Not only is alcohol empty calories, but it slows down your metabolism (and also stimulates the urge to snack in many people). If you decide to consume alcohol, limit yourself to one beverage and then drink water for the rest of the day.
- Make something healthy to take with you to holiday gatherings. Your host or hostess will appreciate your gesture, and you will have a guaranteed option for a food option that meets your dietary standards.
- When possible, take a small plate, like a salad plate, instead of a large dinner plate, at buffet-style gatherings. There’s a natural tendency to fill our plates with food, and by using a smaller plate, you’ll decrease chances of over-eating.
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. We are accustomed to gulping down our food on-the-go, between meetings, or in our cars. Add that to the body’s natural time delay to register fullness, and over-consuming food can be easy to do. Take time to savor your food, put your fork down between bites, and enjoy your company. After you’ve finished your plate, if you think you’re still hungry, wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.
- Favor the veggies and protein. Not only is the fiber in veggies very satiating, but you’ll also be choosing the most nutrient-dense foods on the table. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, and cauliflower are among some great options to put on your plate. Be sure to include protein on your plate too; it is very satisfying and will help to curb mindless eating urges.
- Be very discerning of sugar and treats. If you want a treat, pick one or two items that look delectable – and sample a bite or two. Holidays often translate to “splurge!”, and gatherings are disproportionately over-stocked with cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, and candy. Avoid the temptation to fill up a dessert plate with a sampling of everything. If you have trouble resisting, remember that getting the extra holiday weight to come off is much more difficult than saying “no” to a plate of sugar-glazed Rudolph cookies!
- If you’re hosting a holiday dinner, consider serving food buffet-style at the kitchen counter instead of passing dishes and bowls around the table. When the bowl of stuffing is right in front of you, it’s very easy to keep reaching for additional portions without thinking about it, even after you’re feeling full. If food is “out of sight, out of mind” in a different room, you’ll avoid reaching for more simply because something is there.
- Another tip for hosts and hostesses: Stock up on extra Tupperware so that all of your guests can have to-go containers to take with them, and you won’t be holding onto extra food and tempting treats for days after the event.
- Maintain your exercise routine through the holidays – no excuses! With shopping, wrapping, food preparation, and all kinds of special events going on from work parties to school choir concerts, it’s easy to let workout time slide. Scheduling your workouts into your calendar just as you would a doctor’s appointment or work meeting will help to ensure you stay on track with your physical activity.
Do you have a favorite trick for staying in control of your diet during the holidays? I’d love to know – please leave a comment for me!