Holiday season is here! For most of us it’s a joyful time, but for those trying to lose weight, it can be a stressful time. Most of us want to be able to enjoy all the dishes, drinks & treats, but we’re hit with feelings of guilt and shame. It’s a time you can and should indulge, but your waistline should not have to pay price.
Moderation is key to surviving this season that typically includes excessive eating. Moderation doesn’t mean “deprivation.” Instead, it’s enjoying what you love while avoiding eating in excessive amounts.
The biggest mistakes people make throughout the holiday season are:
Increased portion sizes
Increased consumption of fatty, sugary foods
Little to no physical activity
Eating excessive quick, convenient foods due to travel and social gatherings
With tasty dishes and treats in every direction, eating moderation can be difficult.
So here are a few helpful tips to help you during this time:
Take the edge off your hunger before going to the party: We’ve all been there where we carelessly rush to the food table to fill up on snacks and desserts. Eating something light and healthy, before going to a holiday party can help curb your appetite and prevent overeating. If you still have some worry about overeating, a bonus tip is: Be last to eat. Food tends to look much less attractive after everyone has dug their paws in.
Politely say “NO”. There’s always that one friend or family member who continuously offers you in abundance of food with the sweetest intentions. Know that it’s okay to politely say “no” when you feel you’ve had enough. Or instead, take a small portion home. Your weight loss goals are your priority so don’t be afraid to stay true to them.
Focus on socializing, not eating. It’s so habitual to stand around the food table that sometimes we don’t even notice we’re doing it. This unconsciously leads to overeating. As an alternative, get out and mingle. Good conversations are calorie-free. If you can, try standing more than sitting.
Exercise: Before the holidays, set up an easily achievable workout plan. It will help you to enjoy those holiday treats with less guilt and less chance of weight gain.
Include variety by dividing your plate: When you grab a plate, look at your plate as having sections. Try to get half of your plate to consist of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter plate of starchy veggies or whole grains, and a quarter of lean protein. A dairy or fruit serving can complement the meal. If you’re still hungry, go ahead and have that dessert. Making a plate of nutrient dense foods will ensure most of your calories are coming from quality sources and help you avoid excessive calories you’d get from eating fatty non-nutritious, refined foods such as pizza or a big bowl of pasta.
When eating, be mindful: Becoming aware of all the food options before making a plate can help you make more mindful choices. Listen to your body. If you feel yourself getting food, no need to push your limits.
Stay hydrated: Hydration helps to avoid overeating because about a third of people mistake hunger for thirst. Drink a full glass of water before and with your meal, you’ll stay fuller longer and also try to drink water before going to a party.
Drink alcohol mindfully: Alcohol can increase your appetite and reduce your ability to control what and how much you are eating. Alcohol also is abundant in calories and has no nutritional value. In just 2-3 drinks, you would have consumed enough calories for a full meal.
Be active: Sedentary activities like sitting on the sofa watching television, are common holiday traditions for most families. Prolonged periods of inactivity cause weight gain, especially if escorted by overeating. Doing some type of physical activity with your family and friends, such as going on a walk, bike ride or a fun sports game proves helpful for weight control. Lots of fitness centers have promos and events in a during holiday season. No need to put it off until New Years, stay active during holidays and you’ll find yourself not worried as much about the extra calories.
Get plenty of sleep: Sleep deprivation is common during the holidays due to an abundance of gatherings, traveling, shopping, preparations and more. Sleep is essential for weight loss because lack of sufficient rest may cause increase in hormones that regulate hunger leading you to consume more calories and reduce your energy and desire to be active. Moreover, insufficient sleep is linked to lower metabolism.
The holiday season is meant to be a joyous one, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose track of our goals. By utilizing these tips, you can enjoy yourself and be stress-free about sabotaging your progress. Happy Holidays!