A common phenomenon: our diet is finally progressing, we’re losing weight – then the holiday season arrives, and all of a sudden we’ve gained 6 lbs. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t postpone your diet until afte New Year’s. Here are a few tips that will help you maintain – and maybe even lose – weight through the holiday season.
The upcoming holiday season brings a lot of joy, but also a lot of rich meals and treats – foods rich in fat and sugar. It’s too easy to gain a few pounds this time of year, and for those of us just shedding those pounds, or who just don’t want to get thicker (even without all the layers of clothes!), here are a few tips to get through the holidays while maintaining your current weight:
Planning is the key word. Try to plan each day separately, according to the upcoming meals.
One main meal per day:
Try not to have more than one main meal per day. Major holiday meals usually contain so much fat, salt, and sugar, that it is best to arrange an eating schedule that ensures you won’t face it more than once a day.
No nibbling between scheduled meals:
Try to eat on a schedule, and avoid nibbling in between those meals. When staying over with family during the holidays, there’s a tendency to eat a lot more nuts, cakes, and candy. Have a taste and let it be. After all, you’re there for the good company, not the goodies.
The holiday season doesn’t consist of an entire month:
Don’t forget that there are also “in between” holiday days. During those days, it is advised to maintain an eating routine as close as possible to your healthy home habits and not take on an “it’s the season to be chubby” attitude.
If you’re the host:
That’s an excellent situation in which you control the food being served. It is recommended to make food that doesn’t involve frying or added fat. Serve plenty of vegetables and low-fat treats, and avoid whipped cream cakes and nuts. It is also recommended to give away the leftovers so you’re not stuck with temptations around the house.
Cooking or baking? Chew gum:
To avoid over tasting and nibbling, pop a piece of sugar-free gum to occupy your mouth when you’re in the kitchen so you can save room for the treats you’ll really enjoy. The best gum to chew is spearmint or peppermint rather than a sweet or fruity flavor. The scent of mint may stimulate the area of the brain that registers fullness, so you’ll eat less.
If you’re the guest:
It’s not mandatory to tell everyone you’re on a diet, but you can politely refuse to seconds even without insulting the hosts. Try picking out the least fattening foods, including non-fried dishes, and go easy on or avoid sauces and gravies. Limit servings to a couple of tablespoons each so you can enjoy the variety. And for dessert – fruit over ice cream, cakes, or cookies whenever possible.
Choose before you place on the plate:
Try to decide at the beginning of the meal what portions you’re going to allow yourself. Survey the options being served and decide what you’d like to eat the most. When sitting in front of a packed table, it’s very easy to get carried away and eat with no control. Try to forget appetizers, or limit yourself to one. At the main part of the meal, fill your plate with consideration and thought, and don’t add on to it.
During the holiday eve:
It is highly recommended to eat light meals throughout the day but do not fast, so you won’t arrive starved at the dinner table. A light lunch should be packed with protein and fiber, like half a turkey or cheese sandwich with a cup of broth-based soup or a green salad topped with beans, to make sure you won’t arrive too hungry.
Feel like having seconds?
Since it takes 20 minutes for a feeling of fullness to set in, eat small bites to reach a feeling of fullness faster, by actually eating slower. After the main part of the meal, drink a glass of water, catch up with your distant family members or slowly sip a glass of water before considering seconds or heading for dessert.
Less is more:
Reach for the smallest plate available. You can fill up a small plate, yet have less to eat. If there are many items to choose from, limit servings to a couple of tablespoons each.
Get some sleep:
The first thing we usually feel free to skip over when busy is sleep. However, cutting out shut-eye can be quite harmful. Sleeping less than 5 hours creates lower levels of leptin, a hormone that controls how full you feel, and the sleep-deprived also have high levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Being tired makes you feel hungry and less satisfied after meals. So in order to be a great host or even guest, it’s best to get some rest.