Dieting during the holidays is like understanding Inception the first time you watch it: it just doesn’t happen. The intention is there, but pumpkin spice this and peppermint chocolate that make you weak and cause you to break down. You go from avoiding everything you shouldn’t eat to stuffing your face in a matter of seconds. Why and how does this happen?
The holidays are stressful enough without worrying about your diet. In fact, food is often the primary cause of stress for most people during the holidays. More often than not, stressing about food causes unhealthy cravings and leads to the fabled holiday weight gain, which you were stressing about to begin with. Worrying about food choices is exactly what you should avoid during the holidays.
Everything In Moderation Is Perfectly Fine
When you constantly stress about anything, the body releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Studies found that cortisol increases fat storage and can cause you to consume more calories. We want to assure you that it’s perfectly fine to indulge in holiday treats every now and again. Moderation is key and a little taste of something won’t cause you to gain ten pounds. This model of thinking is more beneficial than eating a ton and saying that you’ll burn off those calories, or that you’ll exercise a lot before a big meal to make up for it. That never works. This is why we want you to abandon the following “rules” that tend to lead to more weight gain during the holidays.
Skipping Meals To “Save Room” For Later
Oh, this old pearl of wisdom that never works out. The waiting game is a fool’s errand because you inevitably become irritable and fatigued. According to several dietitians, missing out on essential nutrients all day easily backfires and causes you to eat without control later on. When you skip meals, your body misses cues for hunger and fullness. This means that when it comes time to eat a meal, your body won’t signal you when it is actually full, so you’ll eat until you hate yourself.
Occasional Treats Actually Help Your Diet
So you’re telling us that you’re going to make it through the holidays without a cup of hot cocoa or a slice of pumpkin pie? As long as you don’t eat pecan pie, stuffing, pumpkin spiced lattes, and gravy every meal, the occasional indulgence won’t kill you. When you avoid treats altogether, you tend to get frustrated from abstaining and then don’t eat mindfully when you do indulge. Don’t swear off comfort foods or sweets during the holidays; rather, focus on savoring the little bites you do take between other healthy items.
The Diet Starts In The New Year So Eating Whatever Is Fine
That is the biggest lie you can tell yourself during the holidays. You cannot justify eating whatever you want simply because your diet starts in the New Year. One psychotherapist said that abandoning dieting like this leads to an inability to acknowledge natural hunger and fullness cues actually leads to overeating. When you set a date to start your diet, you abandon self control until that point. That makes dieting much more difficult when the start date rolls around. Focus on consuming nutritious foods throughout the holidays and set a resolution to eat in a non-restrictive and mindful way.
Healthy Swaps To Enjoy Things Guilt-Free
Many nutritionists tell people to enjoy the foods they love, without overdoing it of course. Allow yourself the small serving of mashed potatoes with gravy or spoonful of Mac n’ cheese. These aren’t dishes you eat on the regular, so why should you deprive yourself of them when they’re made? Making healthy renditions of these classic meals doesn’t typically yield the same satisfactory feeling. Sometimes, the dissatisfaction with these healthy swaps (think cauliflower for potatoes) leads to overeating of the real dishes. Let food comfort the soul, as long as it is in moderation.
Food Is Calories That You Can Burn Off
This is a terrible way to think about food. This way of thinking causes you to view food in a negative light, even though it may not seem that way. A biscuit doesn’t equal a two-mile run and a piece of pecan pie doesn’t doesn’t equal a high-intensity workout. There’s no need to exercise to make up for what you eat. You just have to listen to your body. Don’t refuse a serving of food, but if someone offers you another portion and you’re full, please recognize that and decline. If something calls out to you, please enjoy it if you aren’t full. Throw the “earn-and-burn” mindset out the window and eat if you want something, and pass on food if you’re full.