The holidays are here! While we can make Christmas shopping an aerobic exercise, what do we do with all of these parties, buffets, visits to relatives and the endless opportunities to eat rich and irresistible foods, and the “encouragement” to take another helping? What works? What’s the key? I’ll share what has helped me in years past, as well as some helpful tips I have found around the Web.
Set a goal. Do you want to maintain your weight this holiday season? Are you on a weight reduction diet and want to continue your progress? Decide, as this will be a determining factor in all that you do throughout the season. Whatever your diet and exercise plan, stick with it, and remember that enhancing health and wellness is the ultimate goal no matter at what point we may be in our weight loss or weight management journeys.
Taste your favorite foods if you can. That’s the operative phrase, “if you can.” You may know already that it’s the Christmas cookies or the chocolate truffles that are the trigger foods that are difficult to avoid overeating. Sometimes allowing yourself just one bite — literally one bite to savor the taste you crave — will work. Or it may be best to avoid altogether as one bite, leads to many more. If you are in a family or social setting, you can politely decline the food. If the “food pusher” does not take no for an answer, you can even tell a white lie if needed — if you say you have a food allergy, no one will argue with that. In fact, sometimes just the opposite. I’ve gotten remarkable outpourings of sympathy at times for saying I am allergic to chocolate!
Weigh yourself daily. This will help you stay accountable to yourself. Yes, there will be daily fluctuations but look for overall trends. If you have scale phobia or are concerned you will become too obsessed with the number on the scale, think of the alternative; it’s better to cut back when you’ve accumulated a pound or two rather than five, or ten or twenty. Data from the National Weight Control Registry shows that 75 percent of those who have successfully maintained a weight loss for five years or more weigh themselves regularly; at least once a week. I got over my scale phobia thanks in part to this excellent article by cognitive psychologist Judith Beck: The “Right” Way to Weigh.
Keep a food diary. If you do not already track your daily intake, the holidays are a good time to start. Whether you use a smart phone app, a computer, or old-school pen and paper, keep track of what you are eating, in real time — don’t rely on your memory later in the day or the next day. Just like checking your bank account balance or your running total on your credit cards as you are Christmas shopping, you can do the same for your daily diet to make sure you are not overindulging. Knowing that you must record every morsel may help you avoid the mindless eating that can sabotage you at any time of the year.
Avoid being around rich foods if they are a trigger. At parties, don’t hang around the food. Find other places to mingle. Similarly, don’t spend time on Web sites with glossy pictures of tempting foods, or spend time looking at recipes or watching holiday cooking shows on television. Instead, find other holiday visuals — Christmas decorations, holiday shopping deals, or whatever else may appeal to you about the holidays.
These tips have always helped me and I was curious to find out what others have to say, here’s a roundup of what I found….
“Do not starve yourself all day so you can “eat whatever you want” at the evening’s holiday buffet. Fried hors d’oeuvres and bacon-wrapped shrimp add up quickly. Eat moderately during the day and have a piece of fruit to fill you up beforehand.” Read more at SheKnows.
“Post your eating and exercising goals on your fridge. Carry them with you. Read them every time you are feeling tempted to be bad!” Many more tips at DefrumpMe.
“Eat before you go! Have a big healthy salad before you go to an event, that way your belly is filled with plant-strong goodness and you won’t be famished when you get to Aunt Mildred’s and her fried mashed potatoes will have less power over you.” Several more tips at The Daily Beet.
Among the foods best avoided: “Egg Nog. Enticing you with whole milk, cream, sugar, eggs and alcohol, this drink has loads of the artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol in the milk, cream and eggs. The sugar and alcohol help add plenty of calories, and if you get tipsy enough, you might have more than one cup. One cup is about 350 calories. Some better festive alternatives? Hot apple cider with cinnamon or hot chocolate made with skim milk. Remember though–these are still treats, not something to have every day.” Check out the rest of the list of foods at FYI Living.
Find even more holiday dieting tips from Dr. Jennifer Ashton in the video below. She stresses the basics which are proven to work, such as drinking more water to curb appetite. Drinking one or two glasses of water 30 minutes prior to a meal has been shown in scientific studies to be effective. On the other hand, don’t drink alcoholic beverages and eat calories, she notes. These holiday drinks are not only going to add calories (witness the aforementioned egg nog1) but they lower inhibitions and affect your judgment and you may wind up eating more. More great tips in the video below.
As always, Skinny Bliss readers, we welcome your input — what holiday diet tips and tricks have helped you curb weight gain?