Thanksgiving starts the season of giving. Giving thanks, giving gifts and …giving ourselves permission to eat whatever we want, whenever we want. There’s something about the holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, that unleashes the binge beast in all of us. Perhaps it’s the years of pre-programmed eat-until-you-burst mentality that started in childhood. Perhaps it’s the endless display of pies, cakes and cookies at the market. Perhaps it’s the tempting platters of goodies and nibbles we all bring to work to share. Whatever the reason, we have learned to rationalize this gluttony with “To hell with it, I’ll start my diet and join a gym after New Year’s.”
Did you know that studies show that most of us gain most of the weight we gain all year in the 6 weeks between these holidays? Gyms, fitness studios and diet centers count on that. January 15 is the highest enrollment rate across the country for all diet and fitness centers.
What if you could slow this weight gain train down?
What if you could find a way to enjoy the feasts and treats within moderation?
What if you could weigh the same on January 1 that you did on November 23?
Here are a few tips that can help you maintain instead of gain this holiday season. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not punishing or denying yourself anything by using restraint when eating at the holiday table and between meals. The less you gain now, the less you’ll have to lose come January 1. That’s not punishment, that’s victory!
Tips For the Holiday Table:
- The number one tip is never go to a holiday party hungry. Don’t starve yourself all day saving your calories, so you can eat all night. You will eat at least 2-3 times more calories than you normally would in a given day.
- Use a tablespoon, not a ladle, to serve yourself one helping of the starchy and fatty side dishes. Feel free to sample everything. Just don’t gorge on everything.
- The same goes for desserts. Slivers of pies and cakes. One cookie, not the platter.
- Take seconds of protein rich foods, fruits and veggies.
- Eat slowly. Savor every delectable mouthful. You’ll feel full sooner.
- Drink sparkling water with meals. It will fill you up without adding calories.
- Easy on the alcoholic beverages. Besides containing lots of calories, they slow digestion of food, making it easier to gain weight.
- Take a walk after holiday meals. It will speed up digestion and help burn calories.
- If you’re cooking the meal, be careful not to keep tasting as you cook. Those are what I call sneaky calories. They sneak up on you without you realizing how much you’ve been eating.
Tips for the office:
- Make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast before work. The less hungry you are, the less tempted you’ll be to try all of the treats being set out around the office.
- Bring your own healthy snacks to work. Nuts, fruit, cut-up veggies. When your brain sees food it wants to eat, no matter how much willpower you think you have. Have your healthy snacks nearby to assuage the voice that says “eat now!” when it sees food.
- Don’t let others badger you into trying everything they bring. Practice politely refusing offers of cookies, cakes and candy. Let them know your healthy holiday strategy. They might join you!
- Find a co-worker who wants to follow this plan, so you can keep one another accountable throughout the holiday season.
Remember, food is not the only thing that makes the holiday season memorable. Spending time with family and friends, donating your services to the homeless and the needy, finding and treating yourself to stress relievers such as yoga classes or massages are all good ways to bring good cheer without the calories.
A happy and healthy holiday season to you all!