It’s holiday season! A wonderful time of year, especially for lurking temptations. Oh yes, ALL the food temptations come out of hiding to help you celebrate… which makes it so, so hard to avoid overeating!
No matter your background or beliefs, when it comes to the end of the calendar year food always seems to play a big role in almost every cultural celebration. One of the best ways to keep overeating in check during the holidays, is to first acknowledge and accept that there will be a lot of food temptations and there’s really no way around that. Once you’ve recognised that fact, the next thing is to arm yourself with an attitude that lets you enjoy holiday food without overdoing it. And starving yourself all day before a holiday meal almost always ends in disastrous results too, so that’s not the answer either!
Here are a few tips to help keep you from falling too far off the scale this year.
Ditch the total deprivation
I find it works best for me if I adopt the “everything in moderation” rule, as opposed to creating a mindset where I forbid and put absolutes on food. I don’t know how it works for you, but I find if I totally deprive myself of something, it makes me crave it more than ever.
Okay, this one can actually be a little bit painful to do, but it can also be an eye opener for you, not just during the holidays, but also throughout the year. Pick a couple of your favourite holiday food indulgences and look up the calories and nutritional food values for each of them. Armed with this knowledge, you can then pick and choose which indulgences you will allow yourself and which ones you should pass on. I bet you’ll be shocked when you find out how many calories and how much sugar are in that one tiny sliver of pecan pie.
Allow yourself some trade-offs
Let’s say you’re going to someone’s home who you know is a fantastic cook, so it’s likely that you’ll not pass on eating the most of what’s on offer. If you know this is the situation well enough in advance, you can moderately trim your daily caloric intake by 100 calories a day for 3-5 days in advance of the event.
Another way of allowing yourself a trade-off for eating that amazing meal, would be to moderately increase your activity level a few days before and after allowing yourself this indulgent meal. Adopting new habits, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the supermarket for small errands or riding your bike for 30 minutes, are all good activities that will help boost your metabolism, which will benefit you year round anyway. Plus, these kinds of activities will also strengthen your knees and increase your heart rate too.
Use the “cut in half” rule in restaurants
This is a rule I routinely implement for myself at restaurants where the servings are often too big anyway. Let’s say I want to order that amazing roast dinner fully loaded with gravy, potatoes, dressing and sides, so I allow myself to order it. The trick comes into play when my plate arrives at the table, so before I even take one bite off the plate, I cut the entire meal in half and box up one half to take home to eat the next day. You might surprise yourself to find that you really don’t need to eat everything that’s put on your plate, plus you’ll have the bonus of enjoying the second half of the meal the following day. Take your own container, or ask the restaurant to do it for you.
Out of sight, out of mind
Mindless nibbling from bottomless bowls of party snacks can quickly lead you to unconsciously eat huge amounts of empty calories. Instead, serve yourself on a small plate and then move completely away from the food or buffet. Focus on the conversations with people at the party, rather than on the food or drinks that are on the table. Try to choose raw veggies or hummus options if they’re available and limit yourself to eating only 2-4 calorie laden appetisers where possible. And don’t forget to keep keep the alcohol to a minimum and drink lots of water in between.
Quench your thirst with low calorie beverages
It sounds simple, but be sure you’re always well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before arriving at any celebration. Avoid drinking too many cocktails or glasses of wine as alcohol and mixers contain a lot of empty calories, as do soft drinks and fruit juices. Make it a rule to never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, since the alcohol will be absorbed too rapidly and increase your likelihood to overindulge. Before drinking any alcohol, be sure to always eat a small snack or some kind of protein by nibbling on a few nuts or a small slice of cheese. This will cause your stomach to empty more slowly and will help slow down the absorption rate of alcohol.
Take some time for yourself
I know this is easier said than done, but the bottom line is to remember that the holidays are supposed to be about being thankful and spending quality time with friends and family. So start off this holiday season by not overloading yourself with too many unrealistic goals and stay focused on the simple and important things about the holidays that make them meaningful. Keeping your stress levels down can also help keep you from nervous and unconscious overeating.
More things to do for your health this summer: