The holiday season is here, and that means for the majority of Americans, throwing health plans to the wind and packing on an average of 8-10 pounds by January 1. Then begins the process of setting New Year's Resolutions, claims that "This year will be the year I finally do it," and falling off 2 weeks into the new year. Sound familiar?
If you want to break this cycle, then keep reading. I will be sharing with you my go-to tips to not letting the Holidays derail your efforts and make January 1 daunting.
1. Stop telling yourself weight gain is normal.
Here's a bit of tough love: there is no one telling you that the holidays are difficult to get through without gaining weight, except for yourself. If you believe that you will gain weight, you will! If you believe you won't, and equip yourself with the tools, then you won't. It's that simple.
2. Stop with the excuses.
A little more tough love: Thanksgiving and Christmas are one day each. While Hanukkah traditions last a bit over a week, it still is only one meal you are navigating each day. If you are worried about leftovers, don't cook as much food! If you are visiting with friends or family, work on portion control and ask for nutritious food options for the non-holiday meal.
3. Stay grateful.
If you are stressed about spending the holidays with your family, you are quite possibly not along. But don't let that turn into stress eating or drinking! When you show up in life with gratitude in your heart, you will notice that stress can melt away. Avoid stress or emotional eating by staying thankful for every thing you can, no matter how small.
4. Be intentional.
When you focus on your nutrition outside of the holiday meal, you build in balance, meaning you have a bit more room to intentionally indulge at the holiday meal. This also means that you can nix the guilt. When you are intentional in your choices, there is no room to feel guilty!
5. Enjoy, and go for foods you wouldn't be able to eat every day.
Savor your holiday meal. Don't waste your room on foods you can eat every day, such as dinner rolls (unless, of course, a dinner roll is truly the treat you want!). But if you want to try ALL the things, consider eliminating those that are more readily available from your plate.
6. Use a smaller plate.
When we use smaller plates, the amount of food we have can appear larger, tricking our brain to think we've eaten more than we actually have. This can impact portions!
7. Be strategic in your seconds.
This tip seems to help many clients the most. On your first plate, enjoy a small bite of everything that looks appealing to you. Don't finish what you don't truly enjoy. Then, if you're still hungry, only go back for seconds on what you loved on the first plate!
8. Stay hydrated.
Drinking enough water will help with satiety, and also help mitigate the effects of any alcohol (no hangovers here!). Consider alternating water between every alcoholic beverage. If you do go back for seconds or for pie, try drinking a full glass of water and wait ten minutes - you will probably feel far more full and therefore eat less on the second trip.
9. Consider calories.
Calories are not always calories, so in this sense I'm a bit hesitant to put this tip on here because I don't want you to get caught up on calories alone. However, it does help to be mindful of what foods are higher calorie. At the end of the day, I would much rather you enjoy and savor the foods you truly enjoy (even if they are higher calorie) than to only eat lower calorie options and feel deprived. But if you are indifferent about, say, gravy - then consider skipping it. If you don't care for the skin on the turkey, don't eat it. If you don't have a preference for light or dark meat, opt for the light meat. There are ways that you can further equip your choices, and therefore boost your overall satisfaction, by just being in tune and aware of your options.
In the days leading up to the holiday and the days after, don't slow down on your exercise routine. Keep it a priority! If you are traveling, go for a walk in the neighborhood of the place you are visiting. Consider a workout video (Youtube is great!) or even just try doing some pushups, jumping jacks, or squats. On the day of the holiday, consider going to run/walk a family fun run, or make a trip to the gym. You are more likely to take care of your body when you start the day with taking care of your body, so keep yourself a priority!
For holiday parties:
1. Don't go hungry.
We tend to think that not eating before a holiday meal or party will mean that we've given ourselves more "room" in our dietary budget, but it can actually be very detrimental. When we are hungry we tend to have less self-control, meaning we may go for less healthy options. We also don't set up our metabolism for success. Make sure to eat healthy meals with plenty of protein throughout the day, and try filling up on a salad or shake* before you head out.
2. Don't stand near the buffet.
Out of sight, out of mind! If you are going to a party with an array of treats, make sure to mingle away from the food.
3. Make half your plate veggies, and don't forget the protein.
Whereas I believe that we should truly enjoy and savor the holiday meal, I think we need more strategy at holiday parties. Try to fill up on lower calorie, high fiber, nutritious foods like vegetables or fruits. Be mindful that dips may be high in calories, preservatives, and fat (read: empty calories). Including protein will help with satiety!
4. Bring your own dish.
If the party is potluck style, prepare a healthy version of a dish so that you know there will be at least one healthy option!
5. Stay engaged.
Talking with friends and family can help you from overeating! People tend to snack more when they are bored or uncomfortable, so find a group of people to mingle with and keep your hands and mouth busy.
Want to know more of my secrets? I'm running a holiday group right now to help you tackle the challenges and come out successful. There's still room, so consider jumping in!
*At Set-Point Wellness, we support the use of high quality protein meal replacement shakes. By incorporating this nutrition into your routine, you are setting yourself up for incredible success.