Eat Healthy During the Holidays with a Little Planning

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with a Little Planning

What’s your plan to maintain your weight through the holidays? The average American gains 1-2 pounds over the Holidays. This doesn’t seem like much by itself, but this weight is notoriously difficult to lose.  When you add up 10 years of holiday weight gain, you can easily be up 20 pounds in 10 years.  This creeping weight gain gets us a little closer to obesity and nutrition related disease like Diabetes and heart disease every year.  What are we to do when our calendars are filled with gatherings of friends and family sharing rich foods and decadent treats? Having a plan in place is the key to maintaining your weight this year.  Here are some tips to help you form a plan.

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1.       Moderate your portion sizes. We tend to super size our holiday meals. You can indulge in heavier foods you like in small amounts. Follow the plate division rule. Fill half your plate with proteins and starchy sides.  Fill the other half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables. Plan your servings ahead of time.  For example, I have a rough idea in my head of what I’m going to fill my plate with on Thanksgiving including which small sliver of pie I will indulge in after dinner.  

2.       Don’t drink your calories. Avoid drinks with added sugars. These are empty calories better spent on food.  Choose water and unsweetened tea or coffee.

3.       Thoroughly enjoy your small indulgences! Most people are only aware of the first bite and the last bite of the treat they are eating.  Everything in between is wasted. Take your time and think about each bite as you are eating it. What flavors are you detecting with each bite?  How does the texture feel? You’ll get more enjoyment out of one small piece than your neighbor will get from 2 pieces.  See my article to make mindful eating a daily practice.

4.       Plan a little exercise to balance indulgences.  Schedule it in your calendar and set a reminder.  You are more likely to do it if it’s scheduled.  Even short bursts of cardio can have an impact by speeding up your metabolism for the next few hours.

5.       Curb your hunger with a pre-meal healthy snack.  Eat a small salad or a serving of fruits/vegetables before you leave for your gathering.

6.       Prepare a healthy side dish. Holiday celebrations are often laden with richly prepared carbohydrates.  Ensure there is at least one healthy choice by bringing your own.

7.       Track all your food and drinks through the Holidays.  Meal tracking is a proven way to keep you on track with your weight and nutrition goals whether you are trying to lose weight or just want to maintain. Mobile apps like MyFitnessPal make it easy to track meals on the go.

8. Love more. Eat less. Lean into your loved ones. Holiday gatherings are about connecting with people you love and care for. Change your focus from food to strengthening those connections by leaning into your loved ones and having meaningful interactions.

It is important to make a commitment to a healthy Holiday season without thinking of it as deprivation.  Instead, think of it as an effort to truly enjoy your indulgences without harming your health. Have gratitude for yourself before and after you make healthy choices.  Take a moment to recognize that the healthy food you are about to eat is nourishing your body and staving off illness. Thank yourself for giving yourself the gift of health. With the right attitude and a little gratitude you’ll feel good about your choices.