What do holiday parties and get togethers all have in common?
High-calorie food and drinks!
It’s no wonder many people gain weight during the holidays. Everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded by sweet temptations – holiday cookies, gingerbread houses, pumpkin pies, and more. Even healthy foods like sweet potatoes and green beans are magically transformed into high-calorie dishes that will make you want to do nothing but fall asleep. And, oh, the drinks! Eggnog (one of my favorite Christmas-time indulgences) and alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories.
Want to sidestep those holiday pounds?
Yes, the holidays bring yummy foods and drinks, but friend gatherings and family traditions aren’t about food. Before a party, remind yourself what the holiday season is all about – friends, family, giving, and religious traditions. Then stay focused on the reason for the season rather than the plate full of hors d’oeuvres in front of you.
Second, stay focused on your nutritional goals. Remind yourself of where you’ve come from and where you’re going. Keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. A few bites highly sugared food aren’t worth hours on the treadmill (remember, you can never out-exercise a poor diet!)
The holidays can be a time of emotional eating. For many people, the holidays bring stress, family conflict, or depression. Learn to address the root of your problems with solutions other than food or drink.
In my mind, eating healthy is all about finding strategies that keep you on track so you don’t have to decide to stay on track, you just do stay on track.
Here are some strategies you can employ to keep help you maintain instead of gain:
1. Plan ahead. Before heading out to a party eat a small, low-calorie, high fiber mini-meal (salad, anyone?)
2. Wear tight-fitting clothes around your waist as a gentle reminder, plus there will be no room for expansion.
3. Chew gum before and after a meal so you’ll be less tempted by the appetizers and desserts
4. Keep a safe distance from the buffet table or kitchen, in fact, don’t even face the food. Find a better place to socialize.
5. Eat your protein and vegetables first and lots of those vegetables
6. Eat breakfast! Don’t skip thinking you’ll save on calories because more than likely, you will overeat.
7. Remember that you (probably) already know what the food tastes like. After all, you’ve overeaten every year since you were three years old. Grandma’s cookies haven’t changed.
8. As soon as you are done eating, remove your plate or cover the remaining bites with your napkin.
9. Schedule your workout in the morning or with a friend or trainer and treat it like any other important appointment. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective, but it does have to get done. Push-ups, squats, burpees and lunges at home can do the trick if you’re pressed for time.
Don’t Deny Yourself Completely
Be smart about what you choose to eat. Don’t deprive yourself of all the foods you love or you’ll likely spurge and ruin all your good intentions. Enjoy some of the goodness of the season, but in moderation. Trim calories on foods that don’t matter (i.e. food you can get anytime) or you don’t really love.
Also, be sure to limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you drink. They’re loaded with calories, enough calories that keep you from losing fat during the rest of the year. Start with water and alternate with the alcohol.
Follow these simple strategies, and you will avoid holiday weight gain this season and start the New Year off right!