I love food as much as anyone. In fact, a really good meal brings me great joy! But you know what I don’t enjoy? That miserable “stuffed” feeling you get after an overly-large holiday meal. Even worse is the feeling you get when you step on the scale for the first time once the holidays are over.
Fortunately, I have good news. There are ways to enjoy eating during the holidays without slipping into overindulgence. Here are few tips I recommend you try this year to make your holidays happy and healthy:
- If someone brings or offers you food, remember: you don’t have to eat it. You can either politely tell them you aren’t hungry, or you can take the food and share/donate it later to someone in need. It’s okay to decide if a food is truly worth eating or not. We make decisions all day about how to spend our money and time. Consciously deciding how to spend our calories is just as wise.
- Be careful of liquid calories. Many beverages can contain a lot of empty calories that don’t make us any fuller, but can contribute a lot of extra pounds. It is also easy to quickly drink a lot of calories that can take a long time to burn off. For example, an 8 oz. cup of hot chocolate is easily going to contain at least 150 kcal. For me, burning those calories takes at least 30 minutes of walking at a fast pace, or about 10 min of running to burn. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t drink any hot chocolate or eggnog or whatever else you enjoy, if you’re willing and able to do some cardio after.
- Make sure to keep your home well-stocked with more nutrient-dense, less calorie-heavy foods. If you make sure to get plenty of good nutrient dense foods in per day, you won’t be as hungry for the foods that contain more empty calories. By no means am I saying you should skip out on your favorite treats. But if you eat nutrient-dense food first, you won’t probably feel the urge to snack on holiday fudge as much.
- Scope out all the food selections before grabbing a plate or starting to eat. Decide what foods really look best to you. See if you can narrow it down to 5-6 foods you really want to try the most.
- Start with very small portions of each food and then decide what foods you enjoyed the most and truly want more of. In other words, use your “second helpings” wisely! By not filling up all at once, you can eat more of what you really like as the meal goes on.
- Don’t hang out near the food. Get your food and go sit down somewhere, preferably across the room from the buffet. If you finish your plate and are still hungry, then go back for more.
- At many holiday gatherings, everyone is responsible for bringing something. I recommend bringing a lower-calorie option to share.
- Have a snack before you arrive at a large gathering. Some people think if they skip the previous meal, they will have more room in their calorie budget for the buffet. This often backfires and ends in overeating. In other words, never skip breakfast Thanksgiving morning! (Or any morning.)
- Remind yourself that you can have more food later if you get hungry again. You can even put food on a plate and set it aside for yourself to eat later on.
The key thing to remember is to listen to your body, and to be mindful about your eating. You can make conscious decisions about eating without being restrictive or depriving yourself.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meals
Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself before and during meals to help promote more mindful eating:
- What food looks best to me right now? What am I really in the mood for?
- Am I enjoying this food as much as I did when I began eating it?
- Is there a different food I would rather eat right now?
- Could I stop eating, walk away from the table and not feel like I “need” more food right now?
All these tips probably seem very simple. That’s because they are! I promise you, losing weight – or in this case, avoiding weight gain – doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to “go on a diet” or “be miserable” during the holidays. It means making conscious decisions about what, when, and how you eat.
Of course, if you would ever like a more personalized weight management plan, I would be happy to help you create one! In fact, one of the smartest times to see a dietitian is during the holiday season. As a reminder, I also offer personalized meal planning, diet analysis, and grocery store tour services. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, feel free to contact me by calling 801-815-7301 or emailing me at email@example.com.
Mention this blog post and get $10 off your first consultation!
(Cash pay only. This discount does not apply to those paying through their insurance.)
In the meantime, follow these tips! If you do, it’s far more likely that when you step on the scale come December 26, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you see.