As wonderful as the season is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, a calendar packed with holiday parties and contending with cold winter weather can be challenging to say the least for anyone trying to keep their weight under control.
They say on average most of us only put on about one to two pounds during the holidays. That may be true but the problem is those few extra pounds tend to stick with us into the New Year without being lost.
Instead of viewing the season with dread believing we will have no willpower to make healthy food choices or maintain our exercise routine, see the season for what it is. It is a time to reflect on what is good in our life. Each of us holds the power within us to take control of any situation including maintaining our weight. Use your “skillpower” to your advantage by following the tried and true strategies below and you’ll come out a weight maintainer winner every time:
· Always eat regular meals each day even on the day of a party
Skipping meals may seem like a great idea on the day of a holiday party but once you arrive, you’ll be so starved you will end up eating far more rich food and calories than necessary. Instead, have breakfast, a small lunch and about an hour before the event eat a light meal of maybe a small handful of almonds with orange slices or a small salad with grapes. This will help take the edge off of hunger before you arrive and you will have control of what foods to choose.
· Workout on the day of the party
Plan to exercise at some point during the day. This will help burn off excess calories and pent up stress plus it’ll give you that post workout glow. After an hour or so of an intense workout, our bodies are sensitive to the hormone insulin which helps transport sugars to our muscles. In addition our metabolism will be revved up by a workout meaning you will be much better at burning those extra “indulgences” at the party that otherwise would put on as unwanted weight gain.
· Make friends with people and not the buffet table
In other words, once you arrive at a party and before you grab a plate, take a quick once around of the food being served deciding what you really want and what to pass on. Pick up your plate filling it with small portions of foods you’ve prechosen, move away from the table and find others to engage in a lively conversation with. If possible, go into another room away from the food table or at the very least, turn your back away from it so as not to be tempted for seconds.
· Remember, liquid calories add up quickly
Any calories coming from a beverage be it a soft drink, punch or alcohol, can add up quite quickly. Pace yourself. Start off with a non-calorie beverage first such as a diet soda, water or spritzer then, if you want, go for a calorie-laden one. Alcohol can lower inhibitions so be sure to consume food at the same time and do not drink on an empty stomach. Keep alternating throughout the party between a non-calorie beverage and an alcohol/calorie beverage to keep calories under control.
· Eat slowly
It takes our brain about 20 minutes to send a signal to our stomach that you are feeling full while eating. The trick is to slow down when eating and learn to listen to your body recognizing when it is feeling full. Many of the foods served at a holiday party are ones we only eat during this time of year. Savor their delicate or robust flavors and textures by thoroughly chewing each bite to make the taste last longer. Practicing this technique of slower-paced eating will make you feel like you’ve indulged and yet not eaten to the point of feeling stuffed.
This holiday season, make it your mission to revel in and appreciate everything associated with it. The festivities, the lights, the music and yes, even the food. Food brings us together like no other medium and it is meant to be enjoyed. Enjoy your food but without overindulging. You’ll feel better, have more energy, less guilt, and best of all, you will have maintained your weight which is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.