The rumors of ridiculous amounts of weight gain at the holidays are greatly exaggerated!
In fact, studies have found that the average person gains only 1-2 pounds during the holidays, although the average gain is much higher (5 pounds) in those who are already overweight.
So what does this mean for you?
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The holidays are not going to make or break the average person.
If you’re already fighting a battle with your weight, however, you’re going to need to be a little more cautious.
Here are eight tips for enjoying your holiday season at parties, events, and family gatherings without doing damage to your body or your motivation.
1. Have a plan
Have a plan ahead of time. Even if it’s just thinking through the best choices a few hours ahead of the meal, it’s going to prevent you from making impulse decisions that you will later regret.
Make decisions about what is worth indulging in and what isn’t.
You eat 3-5 times every day, and even if you had multiple holiday gatherings in one week, as long as the rest of your meals are on track, you’re going to be ok.
2. Don’t show up hungry
Eat your normal healthy breakfast, or a small filling but smart snack before your get-together. If you’re starving, you are more likely to lose control at the food buffet.
Practice conscious consumption by eating mindfully and slowly as that is one of the best ways to listen and respond to your body.
Allow that sense of satisfaction to kick in and enjoy it.
Steer clear if refine sugars, as this only make your blood sugars spike and then drop again. Sugar causes mood swings, premature aging, damages the immune system, causes tooth decay and can lead to heart disease.
3. Fill up your plate with the best choices
Christmas meals actually do have some excellent choices.
Turkey white meat is an excellent staple for your plate. It’s lean and full of protein.
Load up on veggies, not only are they really nutritious but they are also full of healthy fibre to help your digestive tract and keep you fuller. Sweet potatoes are another great choice as long as they aren’t loaded in butter, marshmallows, or brown sugar.
At your parties, survey the buffet table with one goal in mind – big portions of the healthier things you can find, limited amounts of the less healthy.
This way you fill up on the stuff that’s not going to hurt you, but still get to sample the yummy things, and don’t leave feeling either deprived or overstuffed.
4. Watch liquid calories
’Tis the season for eggnog, sugary cocktails, sodas and other holiday concoctions.
Drinking your calories is trouble, as it is super easy to down a few 500 calorie drinks in a short time period.
Sticking to the clear liquors with a splash of juice or soda, or wine won’t do too much damage either.
Drink a glass of water in between every drink to stay hydrated, eliminate hangovers, and keep binging in check. Remember alcohol leaves you feeling sluggish, moody, tired and dehydrated which isn’t great when you are celebrating with friends and family.
Plus alcohol zaps those healthy nutrients and your energy, so with a lower immune system that makes it easier to catch a nasty bug or cold going around.
5. Ignore the guilt from relatives
Your family members likely slaved away over their pies and casseroles, and might take it personally when you’re not inhaling their creations.
Smile and politely thank them for their hard work, and sample it if you want, but remember that they don’t have to live with your food choices – you do.
If you are going the route of avoiding junk food altogether, practice your “no” line ahead of time.
“I don’t eat that”, “no thank you”, “not right now”, or whatever line you come up with. Look after you and your body will thank you for it, so don’t feel the pressure to consume the same as others or have seconds.
6. Move a little
Even if your diet falls off track, keep moving. Yes, it might be cold out. That’s no excuse.
I got in shape in my living room using bodyweight workouts, without ever setting foot outdoors.
Even if you lose the will to do your hardcore workouts for a bit, move somehow. Walk as much as you can, even if it’s around the mall.
It does make a difference, and a little bit is better than nothing.
Instead of lying down after the meal to watch television, get outside if you can or play a game with your family, or take a stroll and catch up. It doesn’t have to be a full-out workout today, but moving even just a little will go a long way.
I repeat – look after you and your body will thank you for it!
7. Don’t lie to yourself
“I’ll start over in January”.
Don’t get stuck in this mentality. Don’t let the premise of January resolutions give you permission for a December free-for-all.
This pretty much never works.
How many people who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick with it the rest of the year? Not many. It’s a binging cycle, and it’s insane. Don’t get caught up in it!
8. Relax! Life is about balance
The truth is that for the majority of us, a little eggnog or a couple of Christmas cookies isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t make a little indulgence into a huge issue.
Enjoy the things that are worth it, avoid the things that aren’t, take a deep breath and enjoy the holidays.
Yes, enjoying food is fun and we have taste buds for a reason. But there is more to life and more to the holidays. Focus on good conversation, the joy of being with those we love, laughing and relaxing.
Connect with Expert Denise Grixti