So you’ve had a glorious summer, and fall is upon you. You’re feeling great, getting in your weekly workouts, hitting your target calories, and have shed some weight or hit your body fat percentage. Just when you’d love to get comfortable, the holiday season threatens to derail all of the progress you’ve made and leave you back at square one at the beginning of the New Year, making yet another resolution to shed some unwanted pounds. The holiday season is supposed to be a time of good cheer, connecting with loved ones, and gifting, but it is also the time of year that excessive overeating can become the norm. The great news is with a few precautions you can make small adjustments that help you maintain, if not lose weight over the holidays.
1. BYOF – Bring Your Own Food!
If you are traveling to visit family, and know for sure that there will be nothing green on the table, but an abundance of peach cobbler, sweet potato pies, cornbread and other high carb sweets, it’s always a good idea to get into the holiday spirit and prepare something to share with the ones you love. Make sure you prepare one or two options you know will work for you so that you aren’t left with a less than full plate at the table due to the scarcity of options.
2. Increase Your Physical Activity aka Earn Your Meals.
Eating more is never an issue, the biggest problem is that we do not increase our level of activity to compensate for large holiday meals. It’s a wonderful idea and can be great to get some quality family or friend time to exercise before your meal! If you set yourself up already by burning what you may consume you are less likely to wake up the next day and notice an increase on the scale.
3. Pick Your Cheats.
If you are currently reducing or eliminating certain foods from your diet, or limiting alcohol intake to hit a certain number of calories, it’s a great idea to decide before the meal what you want to indulge in and how much. When we set limits beforehand and give ourselves some room to enjoy, we are less likely to allow that one bite to become the gateway to overeating a lot of our restricted foods.
4. Find Healthy Substitutions.
Making healthier choices should never be about complete deprivation. Most of the holiday foods you love can be enjoyed; it’s a matter of finding substitutions for ingredients to increase the quality of the nutrition. Instead of white flour you could do almond flour, instead of sugar you can use fruit without added sugars to sweeten desserts, if you are reducing carbohydrates rice can be substituted for cauliflower rice etc. Keep in mind that any dish you enjoy should be available to you, it’s just a matter of finding a good recipe with modifications.
5. Eat Mindfully.
During the holiday season some of us can find that we save up our appetites for one big meal, and then end up overeating. Mindful eating is the practice of staying present while eating, pausing between bites, and really listening to your bodies’ cues so that you don’t end up too full. When you feel you have had your fill make sure you stop eating. If you still need to get in dessert you can wait a few hours until the rest of your food has properly digested. Keep in mind that leftovers will be around for you to indulge in the days after, so you don’t have to go overboard at dinner. If you have dishes available you know are triggers, you can actually give away those leftovers so you don’t have that temptation in your house for days afterwards.