The average Canadian/ American gains between 2 and 5 lbs during the holiday season. This isn’t short-term water retention or inflammation muffin top, this is real weight gain, that unless you counter it now or early in the New Year, you will be keeping it on.
Do you have a game plan?
Many people find healthy eating difficult during the holiday season. The holidays revolve around sharing food with friends and family, and temptations are everywhere. The good news is that you can enjoy the holidays without guilt and weight gain. A few indulgences will not sabotage your healthy eating goals. Here are some tips for a guilt-free and healthy holiday.
1. Be Mindful and Eat with Intention
Know that you are going to be eating foods that may not be serving your long-term health goals. Be mindful of the situations you will be in, the relationships you are fostering or building. Have gratitude for the position you are in to even be sharing a meal with people you love. Going into the Holiday season with the right mindset will keep you on track.
Remember it is not necessarily what you do from Thanksgiving to New Years, but what you do from New Years to Thanksgiving. Build your healthy habits now or continue with your healthy habits through the holiday season.
2. Bring your own Dish
This is probably my most used strategy. Sometimes we don’t know what will be at a potluck or someone’s house. So offer to bring a dish that you know is healthy and serves your health needs. That way you know there will be at least one thing you can for sure eat without guilt or second thought.
3. Eat your favorite foods (within reason)
Closely related to point one, be picky when choosing which foods to indulge in. If your Aunt B, makes the best pie ever, fine go ahead and have a piece, knowing that it may not serve you in the long-term, but you are choosing it right now. So have your favorite but pass on the other treats that are just ok or you could really care less about. You DO NOT need to try one of everything. Try and keep the indulging of your “must-have” foods to one or two things.
4. Pay attention to portion sizes
Besides the types of food being consumed, we often tend to eat too much. Again, you DO NOT need to try everything. You could try using a smaller plate and always make sure half of it is filled with vegetables or other foods that work for you and your long-term goals.
5. Avoid going back for seconds
Trust me I know, it can be tempting to go back for seconds, but try to avoid this unless you are truly still hungry. Instead, try to slow down when you are eating and enjoy each bite. Plus, if you are making the conscious decision to indulge in those one or two things, typically desserts, leave some room for those.
6. Listen to your Body
Learn to listen to your body cues. When you are no longer hungry, stop eating. Ask your body whether it wants more because you are still hungry, because you are dehydrated or if it is because it tastes good. If you are still hungry choose the healthier items on the menu to go back for. If you are feeling bloated, gassy, pains or tightness, those are signals that your body is already telling you have overdone something. Listen to your body!
7. Don’t skip meals
It is important to keep a consistent healthy eating routine during the holidays. Unless you are already adept at fasting, skipping meals can cause overeating later. Eating a healthy snack before a party will help curb the appetite and make it easier to make healthy choices. This is another one of my go to strategies when I am not sure what I will be getting myself into.
8. Avoid leftovers
Send your guests home with leftovers or freeze them for a later date. This will reduce temptations and overeating after the party. And do the opposite and do not accept leftovers from the Host either.
9. Get Moving and Keep Moving
We typically have more time during the holidays since we have some days off. Make sure you get some exercise in. Go for a walk, play with the kids etc. Exercise can also help reduce holiday stress. I strive for low levels of movement everyday and only do a couple harder workouts a week, but on the days in question, I always do a hard workout to deplete my glycogen stores, so that the first carbs are going to refuel me instead of being in excess.
10. Stay Hydrated.
Be properly hydrated before you head to an event, have a glass of water upon arrival before any festive spirits, have a glass or two of water before eating, and a glass of water for every drink of alcohol. Also, drink alcohol in moderation. These tips are really for year-round living, not just the holiday season.
11. Dress for Success
During the holiday season it is helpful to wear outfits that are tailored to your body or a bit tight. It is much easier to overeat when you are wearing loose fitting clothing, such a leggings and pants with elastic bands, as they keep stretching right along with you. Wearing fitted pants can help discourage overindulging as it is a constant physical reminder.
12. Don’t wait until January to start your New Year’s Resolutions
Instead, make a Healthy season resolution. Get a head start on your goals so you do not have more work to do in January by procrastinating.
Work with a Health Coach or another professional like myself.