Sticking to your weight loss or maintenance goals can be challenging during the holidays. Fortunately, there are several tricks and tips that can help you maintain a healthy weight and stay on track and happy during this period of the year.
The holidays are not an easy time to diet. It is hard to adhere to your diet rules when you receive constant pressure from family members and friends and there are seemingly an unlimited supply of treats available to you. Aside from outside pressure, we tend to attach an emotional value to holiday foods, connecting them to some of our fondest memories of the holidays. In this article, we have compiled a list of things you can do to avoid overeating, sticking to plan and surviving the holidays when you are on a diet.
A lot of people often have this “I will start again tomorrow” mentality during the holidays, which can prolong unhealthy eating habits and derail you from achieving weight and health goals.
If you are really focused on managing your weight, you need to set limits, restrict yourself, and adhere to your goals concerning food consumption. There’s nothing wrong with giving up certain habits and foods that are not suitable for your goals.
1. Plan Ahead
The popular saying that “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” holds true when you are trying to maintain a diet through the holidays. If you are the type that’s easily influenced by your environment, you need to take steps to make the environment more comfortable for you. Research indicates that having a strategy in place could increase your chances of success.
Take a dish or appetizer and a compliant dessert option along with you to every party. Having food to eat at an event that is aligned with your diet is key to success. When you plan before the holidays, it will enable you to stick to your diet as much as possible.
If you have parties coming up, ask the organizers what foods will be available there or take your own dish along with you. Also, Determine what and how much you are going to eat in advance.
It would also help to make a list of healthy holiday recipes, so you will always have an idea of what dish to take to a party when necessary.
2. Put Treats Out of View
Remember the idiom, “out of sight is out of mind?”
Studies indicate that keeping calorie-rich foods in easy-to-see places can increase how much of these foods you consume. This can be difficult to do during the Holidays, if the people around you like to offer treats and put them on their tables or in common places, but it’s important to look for ways to avoid seeing them.
Intentionally stay away from places where treats are offered and always have your own diet compliant sweet alternatives on hand.
3. Control Your Hunger
Make sure you don’t become too hungry. It will be impossible for you to adhere to your diet plan or make healthy food choices if you go to an event or meal famished. Try to eat regularly throughout the day and select more foods that can help you keep your appetite under control, such as lean protein and fiber-rich vegetables.
A lot of people think that by skipping morning or afternoon meals, they will save the calories for the holiday party later in that evening. Missing meals with the idea that you are saving up the calories for later in the day makes it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar and increases your chances of overeating.
Some tips to follow:
- Consume a protein-rich breakfast
- Drink lot of water during the day and before every meal
- Eat plenty of high-fiber foods
4. Avoid Going Back for Seconds or Thirds
During the holidays, meals are occasionally served as buffets, with a variety of options to select from in unlimited quantities. This often causes people to serve themselves a second time or even a third time. Since the calories from extra servings can quickly add up and make you gain weight, try to restrict yourself to only one plate.
Also, avoid using a big plate: People tend to eat larger portions of food from big plates, which can cause overeating. Therefore, using a smaller plate is a good way to keep your food portions under control. Also, eat mindfully and slowly. It takes your brain up to 20 minutes to register that you are full.
Wait ten minutes before going for another serving. It takes a couple of minutes before your stomach’s “I’m becoming full” signal reaches your brain. So, once you have completed your first serving, give yourself a ten-minute break. Drink some water. Join conversations around the table. And check your appetite again. You might discover that you are completely full or just want a small portion of seconds.
5. Eat More Veggies
Eat a lot of vegetables to make you feel full and get more nutrition in your diet. A lot of veggies contain low amounts of calories and high amounts of fiber, and important nutrients, which can improve your energy levels, mood, and satiate you. Try to fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies.
When eating, begin with veggies to reduce your appetite.
6. Track Your Food Intake
While you can easily overeat during the holidays and get derailed from your diet, the best way to remain accountable and monitor your progress is by tracking your foods. You may be surprised to know how your small indulgences are impacting your weekly averages. Monitor your food intake every day and find out how well you are adhering to your diet overall based on weekly averages.
7. Engage in Physical Activity
One way to counterbalance the additional calories you may be consuming during the holidays is by remaining active or doing more physical activity. The secret to losing weight is creating a calorie deficit. So, if you are consuming more, it’s obvious that you have to expend a few more calories, too.
Chances are that you have a lot of things planned for the holiday season, and physical activity may not be near the top of your list. But staying active is the secret to maintaining your weight during the holidays. It can help you compensate for eating more than normal and relieve stress during what is usually the most stressful time of the year.
8. Control Your Stress
The holiday season is usually a stressful period for most people. Stress can be a stumbling block when trying to lose weight and stay on your diet plan. Research has shown that stress may contribute to poor mood and fat gain around the abdomen. Also, high levels of stress can increase your cravings for sugary foods and sap your willpower.
People who are stressed tend to have high cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that the body releases when you are stressed. Having high cortisol levels can make you gain weight, as it has been associated with increased food intake. Also, living a stressful lifestyle can increase your desire for junk food. Because of these reasons, it is crucial to control your stress levels at all times, but especially during the holiday season, when you might have a lot going on and have many unhealthy foods available to you
One good way to cope with holiday stress is by taking good care of yourself. So, have adequate sleep, take time to recuperate, and stay focused on relishing the holidays.
9. Look for Other Ways to Connect With Family and Friends
Common family holiday traditions include sedentary activities, like sitting together, watching television and of course, food.
Being inactive can lead to weight gain, especially if you also overeat. Engaging in physical activity with your loved ones can help you control your weight. In fact, a simple family walk can shift your mind away from food and help you connect with people you love. Focus on other important things aside from food. While food may be a key part of the holidays, pay more attention to your friends and family, cheer, and laughter and find other ways to connect aside from food.
10. Get Creative In the Kitchen
Make food from (and for) your heart. Let your friends and family know you care about them for real by being creative with recipes that use less lard, butter, cream, veggie shortening, and other ingredients that contain high amounts of saturated fats.
- Use spices and herbs to flavor dishes (instead of butter)
- Use cooking methods such as steaming, grilling, or baking (instead of frying)
- Replace heavy cream with low-fat or skim milk
- When your recipes include flour, look for options that suit your diet
If you need healthier, low-carb, low-fat recipe ideas, we have 300+ recipes you can check out here.
11. Be Creative With Your Cocktails
Holiday festivities tend to involve a lot of alcohol, but holiday drinks don’t need to be alcoholic to be enjoyable or festive.
Soda, alcohol, and other calorie-dense beverages are common during the holidays. These drinks can add a large amount of empty calories and sugar to your diet, making you gain weight. Alcohol intake has also been associated with increased appetite and can lead to weight gain.
Play around with festive mocktails instead.
12. Don’t Forget Your “Why”
Motivation is a powerful thing when it comes to weight loss. Reminding yourself the reason(s) you began the diet in the first instance can help you remain on track during the holidays.
You embarked on this diet because you wished to make a change. And change does not come easy and will never be easy. To bring about a change, you will have to put in real effort and let yourself be uncomfortable for a while. You don’t need to sacrifice everything for this diet. But the truth is that you’re not going to get your desired results if you are unwilling to make the necessary changes.
If A Slip-Up Does Occur
If things do not go as you had planned, don’t get down on yourself. You need consistency, not perfection, to achieve your desired results. Your reaction to the mistake is more important than the mistake itself. So, put it behind you and get back on your diet track.
In the event of a slip-up, go back to eating healthy with your next meal. Returning to your diet the following day after a slip-up, is what will determine whether or not you succeed. Poor eating decisions can easily have a domino effect on your diet during the holidays, but you need to remember the reasons you began the diet in the first place. It takes discipline to achieve one’s goals and accomplishments. So, don’t lose focus.
If you want more tips or are looking for a sustainable way to lose weight, we are offering a 15 minute complimentary consultation with our coaches.