You’re more likely to succeed if you have the right diet plan
First let’s clear up a misconception. Does everyone gain a lot of weight over the holidays? No. According to studies, the average weight gain is only one pound.(link is external)However, the problem with statistics about the national ‘average’ is they don’t really give the full picture. Case in point, the average gain of one pound includes the millions of people who don’t struggle with their weight and don’t gain weight at all.Meanwhile, those who do struggle with weight gain, in other words, the folks for whom that statistic is most relevant—tend to gain 5 pounds over the holidays.(link is external)
Further the amount of weight people gain in the last 6 weeks of the year usually represents 50% of the weight they gain per year—meaning it is more important than ever to find a way to avoid gaining weight over the holidays.
Yes there are too many parties, too much food, too many sweets and cakes and treats, but if you have the right plan you can manage all of these temptations and still allow yourself to indulge once in a while.
Here are twelve tips that will help you get through the season without gaining weight.
1. Eat before You Feast: Skipping breakfast and lunch so you can enjoy a big dinner is a bad idea. Not only will skipping breakfast and lunch slow your metabolism it will also sap your will power when you need it most (exerting will-power requires glucose so the hungrier you are the less will-power you will have). So make sure not to arrive hungry. And when you do eat:
2. Eat More Slowly: It takes food roughly 20 minutes to hit your stomach and let you know you are no longer hungry. If you wolf everything down you’ll keep eating when you shouldn’t and then feel that “I think I overdid it” feeling followed by discreet belt-loosening while inching down into a slouch. You could also:
3. Take Smaller Portions: By taking smaller portions you get to have the things you like which in turn, makes you less deprived. And if you are not clear about what smaller portions are:
4. Use a smaller plate: Yes the salad plate is for the salad but why not live on the edge and use it for your main dish too. It will trick your mind into believing you’re eating more than you actually are. Now, that won’t help much if there are a lot of hors d’oeuvres or small appetizers winking at you from serving trays. In that case you will need to:
5. Start a Toothpick Collection: It’s easy to lose count of appetizers so don’t discard the toothpicks, paper cups, or small napkins they are served on. Palm them or stash them so you keep count of how many you’ve had. Speaking of counting:
6. Don’t over Drink: Alcohol has lots of calories, none of them of the nutritious kind and downing too many can make them add up. Decide how many drinks you will have before you go to the event and then pace yourself accordingly. Do you know what else pacing is good for?
7. Walk It Forward: Walking is a good way to burn off calories but you don’t have to wait till after the big meal to start. Just like paying it forward means taking a pre-emptive step to help another person, why not take 2,000 pre-emptive steps forward (roughly one mile) both before and after the feast. Being outdoors is also great because there is one device in the house that makes you overeat sod:
8. Watch Your TV Watching: Television is great for many things and some not-so-great ones like mindless eating. The more exciting and engaging a show is the more we are likely to fall into automatic or mindless eating (check out the science behind the excitement/over-eating TV link here). Therefore, place what you plan to have as snacks on a plate or bowl before the big game or movie and don’t go over your allowance. You can prep in other ways as well:
9. Bring a Healthier Option: Yes, you love aunt Stella’s stuffing but aunt Stella’s stuffing loves clogging arteries. Bringing your own healthier alternatives is less ‘offensive’ than you might think so don’t be afraid to pack an alternative (unless Aunt Stella happens to have a bad temper and a cleaver collection). Here’s another way you can stand up to family pressure:
10. Be Prepared to Say No Thanks: “Let me give you a little more,” “Ready for seconds?” and “I can tell you loved those so here ya go!” are all statements we have to get comfortable responding to by saying ‘no thank you’. Sometimes it’s harder to say no when you’re caught off-guard so get yourself into a limit-setting mindset. And if you have well meaning but pushy relatives be prepared cover your plate with your hand as you say it. Hopefully you won’t end up with food on your hand but if you do, stick it under some cold water. And since the tap is aleady running:
11. Drink Lots of Water: Drinking water is healthy and it has the added benefit of making you feel fuller. So if you have the choice between soda and water (which of course you do) choose water as the two might both be liquids but they are not remotely equal. Nor are all calories:
12. Choose Your Desert Wisely: We all have a favorite desert. But we also have a runner-up, a third and fourth place and a tight race for fifth and sixth. Just like there can only be one Miss Universe you should decide on your favorite desert, crown it and ignore the others no matter how much it hurts.
And give the gift of psychological health to yourself or someone you love by checking outEmotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts(link is external) (Plume, 2014).