Ahhhhhh, the holidays. The wrapping of presents. The mad dash to the mall to get those last minute gifts for your Uncle Rodney and Great Aunt Shirley, and hitting the highways, railways or friendly skies to visit family and friends. Sounds stressful, but that’s how some people roll. But there are also many who are counting down with feverish anticipation to a feast of epic proportions. Get ready for holiday eating.
Look, as midlifers, can we talk? Let’s be honest: for most of us, it isn’t nearly as easy to drop the pounds or even maintain our weight now that Mother Nature seems to have a personal vendetta against us and our bodies. Yes, it sucks, but it’s life and we deal with it. That being said, it shouldn’t give us carte blanche to gorge ourselves on any- and everything within chomping distance when the holidays roll around. We’re better than that, right?
So What Can You Do to Avoid a Holiday Eating Disaster?
It doesn’t have to all be gloom and doom; you can eat during the holiday season without blimping out. Is it going to be easy? I love ya like family, so I’ll give it to you straight: hell no. But wait . . . that shouldn’t scare you; you are, after all, a trouper, right? Yeah, I thought so. So why not show the monster that is ‘holiday weight gain’ who’s boss?
This list of 10 tips might help to curb the remorse that comes from holiday overeating. If you’re lucky, you may even end up feeling just a teensy bit healthier and perhaps lose a pound or two in the process. How cool is that?
- If you currently exercise, don’t abandon your regular routine. If you don’t exercise, now might be a good time to start (not just for a day or two…think long-term). Don’t be intimated by the word ‘exercise’. It doesn’t have to mean sweating it out for two hours in a smelly gym. Try taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day. The fresh air will do you good and you’ll burn calories in the process.
- Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays. Chances are you won’t be able to do it with all of the tempting food surrounding you. Instead, focus your attentions on maintaining your current weight and adopting better eating habits.
- Don’t skip meals or starve yourself. Never make the mistake of ‘saving up your hungry’ for the big feast. You’ll likely overeat when it’s time to sit down at the table.
- Speaking of overeating, give your stomach ample time to communicate with your brain to tell it whether or not it’s full. When you’ve finished that first plate of food, even though you may be tempted to go back for seconds right away, wait 20 minutes for the message to reach your brain. This is approximately how long it takes for your brain to recognize that you are, in fact, full.
- Instead of piling your food on a plate that’s as large as a satellite dish, choose a smaller sized plate so that it limits the amount of food that you can put on it. Then, once you’ve finished with that plate of food, see tip No. 4 on waiting for your brain to receive the message that you’re full before you decide to go back for seconds.
- Eating is not an Olympic sport. Take the time to chew your food thoroughly. It aids in digestion and you won’t be swallowing giant lumps of food that will sit in your stomach like lead balls.
- Don’t be afraid to say “No.” Just because someone is offering you a third piece of pie doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Let your willpower do the speaking for you and avoid a holiday eating mishap.
- Get your drink on . . . water, that is. While you may be tempted to indulge in several glasses of wine or toss back a beer or two (or six) in one sitting on Christmas and throughout the holidays, try substituting a cocktail with a bottle of water. Water keeps you hydrated, quenches your thirst and won’t leave you parched or with cotton mouth.
- Snug is better! While this tip may sound a bit bizarre, it may help when you feel yourself beginning to overeat. Ladies, instead of wearing an oversized muumuu before you sit down to that turkey or ham dinner, wear a pair of jeans that fit just right. And gentleman, skip the baggy gym-style pants and wear a pair of nice khakis. Not only will you look great, but you’ll thank yourself when you resist the urge to go back for that third plate of food because your clothes will be too snug. When you level the playing field from the beginning, you stand a better chance at success rather than eating to excess.
- Choose with care. Instead of getting a little bit of this and a little bit of that—which could include all 29 food items prepared for the big feast—take a moment to scan the cornucopia of food before piling it on your plate. There’s no hard and fast Christmas dinner rule that states “Thou must eat everything that is cooked.” Choose wisely and you eat wisely.
Voila! There you have it. No need to eat yourself into a gluttonous coma this holiday season. The voice of reason–the one that makes you a wise, phenomenal, kick-ass midlifer–can get you through the holiday eating season and come out relatively unscathed.