Curb Your Holiday Eating Cravings

What food are you eyeing at your holiday party?

What food are you eyeing at your holiday party?
Image: Microsoft Office

There will be cake.  Pie.  Butter-loaded mashed potatoes.  Juicy ham (or Tofurky).  Cheese and crackers.  Wine.  And then all of the free holiday food at work.  Holiday parties.  Times when you feel, “oh what the hell, it’s the holidays!”  Holiday eating cravings will be there, but you have a choice.  Will you be like the average American who gains a pound during the holiday season (and never loses it)?  Or will you be different?

A colleague recently asked me if it’s ok to indulge on the holidays.  I replied, it’s probably fine – as long as you remember that there are only 3 real holi”days”: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and New Years’.  *Note: I’m assuming Hanukkah isn’t being celebrated with a doughnut-laden party every night.

We run into problems when we extend those three days to the other 30 to 35 days remaining in the year.  Over the past week I’ve collected three great resources that can help you curb holiday eating cravings during those other 30+ days, enjoy!

1. A brief 2 minute video I made for Hospital for Special Surgery about Tips for Enjoying Holiday Foods without Sabotaging Your Health 

2. An article I wrote for Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog on Three Ways to Tame Your Sweet Tooth

3. From Six Simple Tips to Help Prevent Holiday Weight Gain.  While some of the recommendations are a little unusual, I really like the ideas of:

  • Keeping a proactive food diary – Writing what you will eat each day rather than what you just ate.  In effect, you’re planning.
  • Staying active – Exercise can regulate appetite for some people and it’s hard to be eating when you’re exercising.
  • Eating when you’re hungry – Rather than restricting yourself before or after a big holiday meal and throwing your eating habits and hormones out of whack, stay steady.  In other words, don’t skip your usual healthy breakfast and lunch in anticipation of a holiday dinner.  The foods at the holiday dinner are likely much more calorie dense, so if you gorge, you’re probably going to end up eating more than if you just had breakfast and lunch as usual.

A couple indulgent meals will not throw off 10 to 11 months of healthy habits – unless you let those meals extend into the rest of the month.  It’s your choice – be happy, be healthy!

P.S. If you have any additional tips that have worked for you during the holidays, please share so you can help the other readers of Death of the Diet!

‘Tis the Season: 3 Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday Calories

Photo Courtesy of WishUponACupcake

A big worry on peoples’ minds during the holiday season is about whether they will gain weight. Unfortunately, most people do…about one pound. While one pound does not sound like much, most people also keep that pound until the following holiday season…when they add another pound. So pound after pound, year after year…those pounds can add up fast. Here are three great ways to keep your cool and avoid being part of the “one pound majority” during this holiday season.

Eat Small, Frequent Meals…Even on Holidays!

While there is debate about whether small, frequent meals increase your metabolism, one thing is for certain: If you are eating healthy food every 3 hours or so, you won’t have the time or hunger to want to eat junk food! We tend to “cave” when we go long periods of time without eating (i.e. 8 AM to 1 PM to 7 PM…sound like a typical day?), and then we are confronted with tasty, free holiday treats when we are most vulnerable (mid-morning, mid-to-late afternoon and late night).

The key to eating small frequent meals is having planned “snacks” between meals during the day. Think of them as mini-meals, like fruit and a piece of string cheese, veggies and hummus/peanut butter, half a sandwich or a yogurt with high fiber cereal.

Focus on “How Much”: Consider Portions

A little bit of pumpkin pie or candied yams is not the end of the world. Making them most your plate is another story…especially if you have a big plate! Often we get huge plates to serve ourselves on for holiday meals…so we feel the need to fill it up because it’s a special occasion. And then we feel guilty leaving over our family’s food, so we eat all of it…even if we don’t want to.

Instead, ask for a smaller plate and focus on filling half (or more) of your plate with healthier options. Then make the rest of the plate up with the things you “can’t live without”. Studies show that people tend to eat less if they use smaller dishes and utensils. If you finish the smaller plate and you are still hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 15-20 minutes. This will give your body enough time to get the signal as to whether you are full or not (usually takes 15-20 minutes). If you are still hungry, then go up for seconds and follow the same process as before.

Stay Active

A 30 minute jog can burn about 300 calories. Doing 30 minutes of interval training can burn a ton more. While many consider nutrition to be about 60 to 70% of the equation when it comes to weight loss (or weight gain prevention), the 30 to 40% contributed by physical activity is not to be disregarded!

If you are currently active, stay that way! We are often knocked out of our routines during the holidays due to travel, additional evening commitments and the shorter days of winter (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Take a look at what your current physical activity level is (number of days per week, how long, how intense), write it down, review it daily and commit to continuing that level of activity through the rest of the year. Or kick it up a notch if you feel confident that you could be doing more; it does not have to be a lot, just an additional ten minutes added on to your usual workouts. Consider it a pre-New Year’s Resolution.

TELL ME: Do you change any habits in particular to prevent gaining weight during the holiday season?  Or how do you safeguard yourself against the temptations that don’t usually occur the other months of the year?

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