Ah, the colors of Christmas season. The silver Hershey kisses bells. The scent of flavorful fresh pies wisps through the air. The red and white peppermint candy. The green icing atop homemade holiday cookies. Glistening gold wrapping paper housing the largest variety of chocolates that you’ve ever seen in one box.
It’s a flashy spread of excitement to delight eyes, tastebuds, and hearts. And if you are not careful, your waistline.
Stuffing our stomachs is as much a holiday tradition as stuffing a turkey. Not to mention it feels like the entire retail industry gears up to make this season of giving another season of… gaining.
Instead of wringing your hands once the holiday jubilee begins, arm yourself with these yuletide hints, so you’ll continue to see success with your health goals in mind.
When the Carol Bells Begin
Prepare yourself for the treats and sweets that are bound to arrive tucked inside a pretty tin for your kitchen. They are part of the holidays as much as holly. Christmas parties, family visitors, social time with friends, and holiday travel – and the plethora of people also means food – in abundance. This is not new. As the hum of familiar tunes reach our ears, we reach for our plates and the reason for the season starts to become eating more, eating often, and eating out.
Not to mention the busyness and hustle and bustle of gift-buying and wrapping, tree tinseling, and checking your gift list twice doesn’t allow healthy eating to stay a priority for very long.
Unless you make it one.
Take a moment to regroup and remember. You have been working on your health and your weight. You dread gaining those 5-10 pounds, but somehow you feel at the mercy of the merriment. You want to lose weight over the holidays.
With dinner trays and foods galore wafted under our noses, how are we to keep from caving? Most of us are Blitzen-ed to our breaking point. If you don’t want Santa to leave a new belt for you beneath the tree, try these tips, and soon you’ll be hearing those carol bells ring out with hope for avoiding holiday weight gain.
Your North Pole Priority
Prioritize your goal. The more important eating healthy is to you, the more likely you are to make nice choices, instead of naughty ones. Try making a list of 5 naughty foods you will not choose. These can be cookies, fudge, candy, pie, and gravy. These foods typically cause you to desire more food later, and are sodden with calories.
Then make a list of 5 nice foods. For example, a peppermint, turkey, cheese, vegetables, and sweet potato. These foods will satisfy you. Try allowing yourself to choose desserts only from one category. For example, choose from only the candy-cane category, which would include peppermint bark, candy canes, peppermints, etc. This will keep you from overdoing it with other categories of sweets.
4 Out Of 5 Isn’t Bad
To prevent holiday time from turning into a festival of fatness, remember how many chances you have to eat well. If it’s Friday morning, and you have an evening Christmas party tonight, you still have 3 or 4 other great eating opportunities prior to showing up at the door.
For example, on the day of a big party, have a protein-packed breakfast like an egg white omelet with cheese. Then pack a wrap or sandwich for lunch. Take a couple of healthy snacks to have during the day, especially as you shop till you drop. This keeps you from becoming super hungry before the party, which of course will help you lose weight over the holidays.
Some people may choose to try and not eat all day, and conserve calories. They plan to ‘spend’ them in the evening. But, research shows your metabolism slows drastically when you skip meals, and you become more likely to eat extra at the party if you delay dining all day.
So instead, make sure your meals surrounding that Friday night party are good ones. Fill up with lean protein for breakfast and snacks, and you will find that all your cravings are left on the doorstep.
Mind your Mentality
Instead of ‘giving in’ during the season of giving, view yourself as a healthy person. Adopt the mindset that a healthy person chooses not to eat Christmas cake, because it’s not good for them. The more you identify yourself as someone who gets more delighted by decorations than dining, the less likely you are to over-indulge. Hold your head high when tidings of treats pass by. You are a person who eats healthy, even during the holidays. Choose to swim upstream and not give in to holiday weight gain.
Mind your Manners, too
If someone offers you her world-famous St. Nick cookies, be prepared to offer her a polite smile and “No thank you, but I am really enjoying your party.” If you want to really show your gratitude, add “thank you for opening your home to all of us.” Diverting the conversation from the crumbly cookies, and reassuring your hostess that you are glad to be there, ensures that she does not get offended by your polite refusal.
Often when we are in social situations, especially unfamiliar ones, we need something to do. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, occupy yourself with something other than eating, see if you can serve a useful purpose to the hostess. Also, try keeping something in your pockets to keep your hands busy, or if it’s not inappropriate, try chewing gum to help you lose weight over the holidays.
Home for the Holidays
If you are preparing a feast at home, try making it buffet style. Researchers know that if food is outside arm’s reach, people are less likely to fill their plates again. Most people do not return to get more if they must leave their seats.
Be mindful of eating too fast. It takes 30 minutes for your body to send a satiety signal to your brain. Chew your food slowly and enjoy the festive flavors of your favorite healthy holiday foods. Remember that you don’t have to stuff yourself to remember memories. Savor your time and conversation with family. Enjoy even the not-so-angelic events, remembering you may laugh about them later.
And finally, remembering the reason for the season and delighting in Donner, Dasher, and Dancer instead of dinner will take you far along your road of resolve. Who says you can’t lose weight over the holidays? You’ll be looking back in January, having successfully avoided the largest weight loss challenge on your journey. You can make your New Year’s resolutions right where you left off.