There is nothing more nostalgic, enjoyable or delicious than feasting on the holidays. But, did you know that the average Holiday feast can have a caloric value of 3000 or higher?
Considering that a good percentage of the population is regularly consuming 2000 calories in a day, this could mean some out of control weight loss.
Especially when most families can feast for days.
This is what has given rise to the popular notion that the average American gains between 7 and 10 pounds during the end of the year.
The statistics held by the Calorie Control Council actually set the figure closer to 3 pounds. The real problem, according to the CCC, is that very few people take working this weight off after the holidays very seriously.
But, the holidays needn’t be a time of concern over tasty treats or desperate resolutions made on the Eve of the New Year.
Below, are our top five tips that can keep you on the healthy side of fun and indulgence, and avoid starting the new year with regrets and pressing commitments to weight loss.
1. Make a Plan to Avoid Eating Too Much
The idea that healthy eating is a moment’s decision is completely false. Good habits and healthy choices are made in advance and act as safeguards to keep you from poor health.
You are going to get hungry at some point, but when you do what are you going to find available. Most likely there will be plenty of tasty foods and fattening delights.
But, if you were to balance your eating by contributing some healthy foods to this repast –even just apples, oranges and grapefruits— you will have plenty to eat between meals and keep your dietary habits just right.
2. Mindful Eating
Feasting is a time for relaxation and enjoyment.
But, this does not mean gorging or stuffing your face with as much fine food as you can.
Experts agree that mindful eating is the healthy choice and the future of proper eating.
Mindful eating is selecting the foods you love and enjoying every bite, mindful of the flavors, textures, and combinations that makes feasting the sensual pleasure it is.
3. You’re in Control
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is “I had no control over the situation”. This is tantamount to saying the hors-d’oeuvre are plotting against you.
Sure, there will be some of the richest most sinful delights available in hefty quantities, but go for a small spoon, not the shovel.
If you feel that you must eat to make a good impression or be polite, eat an acceptably diminutive potion in full view of the host or hostess and take your time to eat it as well. Finally, never underestimate the power of the white lie.
Celiac disease is hardly noticeable but makes you exempt from every “gluten” containing dish on the menu.
4. Eat Like a Kid
Have you ever been in the heat of a conversation over dinner and when you look down at the plate you realize you have finished off the entire portion and are ready for thirds? By contrast, observe how a small kid encounters their food during the feast.
They will snag a portion from one side, push the peas away from the potatoes and even sail their spoon through the air for another cargo load of celery soup.
The point is they are making their food an experience while the grownups are making socializing an experience and eating the accompaniment. Eat like a kid again, take smaller bites, mix foods and try your best to make visual connections with your sustenance.
This will allow you to fill slowly without over-eating and allow you to feel lighter and more energetic later.
5. Earn Your Food
Rather than focusing on the consumption of food, consider balancing your holidays with an increased amount of physical exercise to compensate for the greater quantities of food you will be enjoying.
When you think about it, the issue is simply about a sudden increase in calorie intake with no additional expenditure to create a balance.
So, if there is a run to the store, consider walking the extra mile. If there are children with energy to burn, you’re the relative taking them to the park. If you see there is no extra work to do, schedule your hour of regular vigorous exercise.
Then you will sit down to the feast feeling famished, exhausted and in the best state of mind and body to enjoy this meal.
6. Save Your “Cheat” Meal for the Big Day
If you’re following one of the more popular diet plans these days, there’s a pretty good chance they have a “cheat” day or “flex” meal built into the program.
If not, there are other ways you can use a cheat too, but the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program is one good example.
Most people have heard of Weight Watchers Points by now, but what you may not know is that they actually have “rollover points” built into their plan now.
That means if you don’t use all of your points one day, you can save the leftovers for the next day – sort of like rollover minutes that cell companies use.
In this situation, you could take it easy on your eating the day or two leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, so you can have some extra points to use when it comes time to feast!
If this sounds like something you might want to try, you can read more about the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program here.
7. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is more popular than ever, and it’s a great way to take control of your weight.
It’s something I use almost every day, and the longer you’re on it the more your body adjusts to taking longer breaks between eating.
I usually follow the 16/8 fasting method (learn more here), and here’s how it works:
- Fast For 16 Hours (This Includes Sleeping Hours, Of Course)
- 8 Hour Eating Window
For me, I usually don’t eat until noon most days, and then I stop eating by 8 pm – often times earlier. Using this system, you could try an IF session leading up to your holiday feast, and possibly fast for even longer, maybe 18 hours?
Just be careful not to go too crazy when it comes time to eat, or you might make yourself sick ;-). For IF to work under the holiday scenario, I would suggest trying it for a week or two leading up to the holidays, so your body has adjusted to this new way of eating.
Either way, check with your doctor before trying any of these tips, just to make sure you’re healthy enough for them!
In conclusion, don’t let food stress detract from the joy of the holiday season. Remember that balance and healthy decisions will keep you from packing on the pounds. Consider the challenges ahead and set yourself up to win.
If you’re following a diet plan like Nutrisystem or the South Beach Diet, it’s OK to allow yourself a cheat day on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but keep things in moderation, and then plan to get back on track the next day.