The holidays are upon us! ‘Tis the season to be jolly…and gain weight?
Many of us fear gaining weight during the holiday season or even plan on it. This year people are also over-shopping and hoarding food because of COVID. And while there may be fewer office parties, there will still be family gatherings and holidays spent at home. So how do you navigate the holiday season without overdoing it and still enjoy yourself? Just follow these easy tips!
- When shopping for food, make a list first. Try to stick to it.
- For healthier options, make a circuit around the outside aisles of the grocery store – that’s where the fresh food is – and skip the middle aisles as much as possible.
- Consider making a smaller holiday dinner – one appetizer, one main course, two sides and a salad, one dessert – instead of making dozens of dishes that will only result in overindulgence and too many leftovers.
- Putting food directly on the plates instead of leaving serving dishes on the table is proven to reduce food consumption. If you don’t see food in front of you and you have to get up to eat more, you are less likely to do so.
- Remember that your body has the same needs as every other day – it doesn’t know it’s the holiday season – and your appetite remains the same no matter how good the food looks
- Size matters – choose a smaller plate
- Exercise portion management and fill your plate once, choosing a maximum of three or four items. That’s it. No refills. When you’re finished, put your fork down. Better still, put your plate back in the kitchen.
- Don’t forget your fruit and veg! You can still eat them as much as you want
- Distract yourself. If you don’t want to eat but the food is calling out to you, do something else. Go for a walk, read a book, take a bath, play guitar, do some chores or play with your kids. If you’re not really hungry it will pass.
- Remember that the holidays are about faith, family, friends and celebration and not just about the food. Focus on creating a fun experience for yourself and your loved ones
- Stop yourself if you don’t like something Did you take a huge bite of cake that looked tasty but wasn’t as good as you’d hoped? Stop. Just because you took it doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Do you still feel hungry? See if you can exchange it for a healthier treat: fruit, dark chocolate or a handful of nuts, or maybe a glass of tea or water.
- Avoid your trigger foods. If you’ve got a weakness for stuffing or eggnog or candy canes, for example, avoid them. Don’t bring them into your home and don’t indulge in them at parties. Exchange them for a food or drink you won’t overconsume. We get no joy out of setting ourselves up for failure.
- Check to see if you’re really hungry. Often we feel hungry when we are not, but we misinterpret our body’s signals. It’s never a good idea to eat if you’re not really hungry so…before you eat, ask yourself: Do I really need this? Maybe I’m really thirsty? Tired? Bored? Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register if your stomach is full. Take the time to listen to your body.
- Never, ever feel guilty. Do you feel that you can’t resist those last two cookies? Or maybe you just have to have seconds of turkey and sweet potato pie? Enjoy it, then let it go. Much emotional eating is motivated by guilt. Feeling guilty about eating too much inevitably leads to eating more. Recognize that you’ve eaten more than you wanted to and remember the good news: your next meal will present a beautiful opportunity to make a different decision.
Cindy Solkin is a Nutritionist at BodaHealth in Vancouver, British Columbia.