Rut-roh…Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are coming. What does that mean? Holiday eating. Lots of holiday eating. Right now, all across this great land, people are getting ready. Oh sure, maybe you’ve already begun wrapping presents, frantically driving to and fro post-Black Friday, and getting ready to hit the highways, rails or air to visit family and friends, but many are also counting down with feverish anticipation to eating some epic chow.
Okay, so now for the real deal. Look, we both know that Christmas is not the start of your feeding frenzy. You’ve been going at it, hard, since Thanksgiving (the quintessential holiday pig-out feast) and the chances of you abating your gluttonous plan are slim. Despite that, the holidays don’t have to mean monumental weight gain. You don’t have to take leave of your senses and pack on 10 pounds in one day. Allow the voice of reason to prevail and you can get a handle (no, I’m not talking about love handles…) on things and come away relatively unscathed. There are practical steps you can take to help curb weight gain during this holiday season. Is it an easy task? Well since I’m being honest here … no, it’s no cake walk. But the alternative is not such a welcome thing—that dreaded weight gain.
I have compiled a list of 10 tips to help alleviate the holiday remorse that comes from stuffing ourselves as if we were the turkey. And if we’re lucky, we might even end up feeling healthier and losing a pound or two in the process.
- 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.
- Holiday 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.
- 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.
So there you have it. This list isn’t a magic bullet, but if you heed even half of the tips, you may be able to thwart those bulky holiday eating pounds. Bon appetit!