Ahhh, the holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and Christmas is right around the corner! As with many, our family enjoys the food that we are sure to feast on during these times. Turkey, ham, dressing, casseroles, dessert…oh, and the list goes on. I would like to tell you that it is easy to defer away from these foods, and ignore your need to want to take a bite in the feeble attempt to save your waistline. To just simply turn your head and walk the other way. But where is the fun in that?
Holidays are a time that for us mean family, fun, and FOOD! Our holiday meals are tradition, and the work that goes into preparing them is a way that we show each other that we care. And I can promise you that I am not skipping out on testing each dish. Nope, not happening. Then, you add in the extra stress that the holidays are sure to provide. Whew. If you are like me, stress eating is your gig. While I was in nursing school, I gained nearly 30lbs in two semesters from stress eating. Seriously. However, just because the holidays are here, does not mean we have to sacrifice our health and year-long work.
Here are a few tips to help avoid holiday weight gain:
- Bring a healthy side dish. Not all sides have to be completely unhealthy. Toss together a healthy dish and bring it to dinner. Not only have you helped to contribute, but you can help to control what you eat. Many traditional sides have “healthier” options.
- Make a plan for a conscious indulgence. If there is a special item, or a delectable dessert that you can’t stand to pass up, don’t. Just make a commitment to yourself that you will only have one slice of cheesecake…not 5. 😉
- Choose a small plate. This is a tip I use every day. Typically, if a larger plate is used, people end up eating larger portions. Opt for a smaller plate to help with portion control.
- Get up and get active. A lot of times, holiday get-together’s include lazy post-meal comas spent on the couch watching TV. Find a way to get moving to help prevent some unnecessary weight gain.
- Drink wisely. If you aren’t a person who typically consumes much alcohol, and then you suddenly pack on extra mimosas and eggnog, you can be sure that you body will react. Be mindful of those extra calories.
- Skip second servings. I know that the dressing and broccoli casserole was wonderful, but overindulging can get you in trouble. These calories add up quickly!
- Keep a not-so-guilty comfort food on hand. Maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter and small piece of dark chocolate, healthy nuts, or apple and cheese cubes. Any of these could help to satisfy your need to snack, while not causing a ton of guilt.
- Don’t forget your healthy habits during the week. Holiday seasons can create an all new kind of hustle-and-bustle. Try to remember to not get caught up and skip over your exercise and healthy habits.
- Get some sleep. Lack of sleep can cause one to be hungrier and therefore consume more calories and decrease physical activity. Plus, sleep deprivation may affect one’s metabolism.
- Control your stress levels. Increased stress tends to lead to excess cortisol levels that can cause a want for increased food intake and therefore weight gain. Plus, again, that stress eating: typically it isn’t healthy snacks you reach for.
- Fill on fiber. Opt for foods with increased fiber content. These foods will help to keep you feeling fuller longer, and decrease your risk to fill up unnecessarily on unhealthy dishes.
- Pick some protein. Many of our favorite holiday dishes have an abundance of carbs, but are lacking on the protein front. Making sure to balance protein into your meal can help with reducing hunger and help to make you feel fuller. It also helps to regulate the metabolism, and therefore assist with weight maintenance.
- Don’t forget your veggies. I know, I know. That gourmet mac & cheese is wonderful, but be sure to add in dishes that have some vegetables. Remember, they are full of fiber and are known to assist with weight loss.
- Remember to hydrate. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. It keeps you feeling full and helps to regulate digestion. Plus, it’s a better alternative to your sugary sodas.
- Pace yourself. Take your time while eating. Chew slower. If you try to cram all of your eating into a short period of time, you tend to eat more than you need.
What tricks do you use to avoid packing on extra pounds during the holidays?