’Tis the season to get swept up in unhealthy holiday foods and gain weight. Sorry, were you expecting us to say it’s a time for family gatherings and beautiful celebrations? The holidays are ultimately about togetherness and love, but every holiday celebration turns into a food extravaganza that leaves you in a food coma.
It’s safe to say that the average person indulges a little bit more than usual during the holidays, with a slice of pie here and a glass of eggnog there. Perhaps you decide to eat cookies and milk or gobble up gingerbread houses after making them. Health experts estimate that most people consume an extra 200 calories per day during the holidays, and that’s on the low end. This doesn’t sound like much, but it contributes to five pounds of weight gain over a four- to six-week period. And most people fail to shed that weight when the New Year comes around.
If you want to put an end to the notorious holiday weight gain, we’ve got the tips and tricks to keep you healthy this year. To be clear, we aren’t advising you to engage in operation starvation; rather, we’re simply illustrating how you can stave off weight gain this holiday season.
#1: Bring On The Veggies
If you don’t know by now, Dherbs is all about the veggies, but the holidays are not. Classic holiday dishes are heavy, rich, and often carb or meat-centric. Invite vegetables to the party this year (since you can’t invite people because or the Rona!) and make sure that they make up at least half your plate. Rethink your holiday menu this year and experiment with non-starchy vegetable dishes. You can try some roasted Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potatoes (no butter or sugar necessary), sautéed green beans, or festive salads that highlight seasonal produce.
#2: Ask Yourself, “Am I Still Enjoying This?”
Holiday meals seem to last forever, and that contributes to overeating. The food stays out as long as people are sitting at the table, and that’s a big problem. More often than not, people just keep refilling their plates with items that they don’t even want. If you find yourself doing that, ask yourself, “Am I still enjoying this?” Are you eating to just to eat or are you eating because you’re hungry? When you finish the food on your plate, set a timer for 30 minutes to see if you are hungry when the timer goes off. If you aren’t hungry, then don’t bother getting more food.
#3: Outsmart The Buffet Or Spread
The buffet does not have complete control over you, and you are not powerless to the temptations on the holiday table. When you face the inevitable holiday spread, have a plan of attack. Fill a small dessert plate with foods that you typically enjoy, and only place vegetables, fruits, or whole grains on the entree plate. Eat slowly, savoring every bite you take. When you eat slowly, you allow yourself ample time to fill up. If you have diabetes, stay on top of your blood sugar, checking it often because holiday meals cause blood sugar spikes.
#4: Always Opt For Homemade Meals And Fresh Foods
So many holiday meals call for canned foods that you can easily replace with fresh items. Canned items or pre-made/frozen meals contain excess fats, sugars, calories, and sodium that you can avoid if you use fresh ingredients and make dishes from scratch. Is this a little more labor-intensive? A little bit, but it’s so much better for your health and mission to control weight during the holidays. Make cranberry sauce from scratch or use fresh green beans in the casserole. Using fresh ingredients and making things from scratch makes you more aware of what you’re actually eating, and this can carry into life beyond the holidays.
#5: Everything In Moderation
You’re going to indulge in things that you know you shouldn’t eat this holiday season, and that’s perfectly acceptable. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a festive treat here and there. Statistically, denying yourself this satisfaction can actually lead to more binge eating and weight gain. If you eat an overindulgent holiday dinner, make a green smoothie or chia pudding for breakfast the next morning. Don’t be afraid of salads either! Many holiday produce items go great in refreshing salads.
#6: Focus On Sleep
How does this relate to holiday eating? Well, studies have shown that sleep-deprived people have a more difficult time balancing blood sugar. Cheating yourself out of a good night’s sleep will cause you to crave meals that have a higher fat and sugar content. It’s best to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. We know this can be difficult, what with holiday shopping, end of the year projects, etc., but sleep is rejuvenating and necessary for optimal health.
The holiday season is about celebrating the people you care about. Focus on love and less on food and you’ll have a healthier holiday season.