How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
How would you describe your healthy eating and weight loss motivation during the holidays?
A) What motivation, it already packed a case and left for the holidays?
B) During the holidays, motivation and I kinda have an on-off relationship.
C) Super motivated with a whole load of discipline and a good pinch of determination.
The holidays have to be one of the hardest times of the year to stick with your healthy eating goals. You’ve got tasty temptations charging in at you from all directions.
One minute you’re right on track, prepping meals, planning your training sessions, then Christmas sneaks up and messes with your routine.
There’s the work’s Christmas do; meeting friends for a catch-up; dropping into family gatherings and not forgetting the challenge of navigating through the supermarket aisles.
All those clever marketing strategies aimed at pulling you in – so many festive food bargains, how can you to resist?
And your motivation is like, “Hey I deserve a break too, this is all getting stressful and a bit tough. Why don’t you hang out with discipline and willpower for a while.”
So I’ve pulled together some tips to help you avoid a complete blow out over Christmas. Let’s start with eating out
Eating out usually comes with extra calories, starting with the fresh warm bread offered to you before you even look at the menu.
Unless you answered C, the key to avoiding weight gain over the holidays is to be flexible with your approach. I’m not saying just go for and pig out.
If you do that, one of the things you will get for Christmas is a muffin top.
On the other hand, following a strict diet during the holidays is tough. I tried it once and ended up feeling blah! One tiny slip up and I was engulfed in guilt. And feeling that way at Christmas ain’t fun.
Remember a diet isn’t ruined in a day.
Take Control and Choose
There are two ways you can approach your food and alcohol choices; let yourself go or ‘take control and choose’.
Most restaurants these days have menus on their website. So deciding what to eat before you get there – or more to the point what to avoid – can help keep you on track.
Here are some guidelines you can follow when eating out:
Alcohol – choose lower alcoholic drinks, mix with sparkling water, have a smaller measure or avoid.
Nibbles – keep away from them, that includes the fresh warm bread and butter.
Starters – avoid anything with sauce, cream soups and pate. Choose grilled fish, shellfish, melon and fruit.
Main courses – avoid rich sauces and fried food. Instead, choose grilled or roasted meats.
Vegetables and salads – eat as much as you want.
Cheese and biscuits – don’t be tempted to eat it as well as your main course.
Chocolate, cakes and pastries – all high in calories and fat. Try to choose fruit salad or sorbets. Or if you don’t eat out often, why not share a dessert and ask for two spoons.
You won’t always stick rigidly to all those guidelines, but do try to incorporate most of them. If you fancy cheese and biscuits, then try to stick to all the other suggestions.
Yep, it’s all about balance
Booze will put your resolve on snooze
I bet you’ll hear someone claim in the New year “I’ve piled the weight on over the holidays?” Well in a lot of instances people are ‘pouring’ the weight in too.
Here’s an excellent resource for working out the units and calories in your alcoholic drinks; the Drink Aware unit calculator.
You may be shocked just how many calories you’re consuming. And of course, this will affect your weight.
Studies show that alcohol can loosen your resolve. If I’ve been sipping buck fizz or mulled cider, I’m more likely to say, “Oh go on one more cake won’t hurt, it’s Christmas after all.”
And the next morning, I’ll crave a larger breakfast, instead of my usual bowl of cereal and fruit. So it’s not just the calories in the alcohol, now you’ve gone and eaten more than you usually would.
So Here’s the Plan
Make a plan before you start drinking over Christmas, at home or out socially. Set yourself a limit on how much you’re going to drink. Use the Drink Aware unit calculator to check units and calories.
Set a budget if you’re out socialising
Go Solo; avoid getting into rounds with your friends. Drink at your own pace.
Friends and family, get their support by letting them know you really don’t want to gain any weight over the holidays. And ignore it when they say “It’s Christmas, don’t worry about it.”
Drop a size to drop a dress size; you can still enjoy a drink but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
Stay hydrated and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a low sugar soft drink.
Beat the Christmas Day Binge
Start the day with a healthy breakfast. If I try and save calories for the main dinner and sit down starving, I end up eating far more than I should.
Eat mindfully and try to enjoy and savour every mouthful of food.
Drink water to help fill you up and cut down on some alcohol.
Get some fresh air, take a walk to burn some calories.
Remember there’s always tomorrow. You don’t need to eat a second portion right now; you can save it for later or tomorrow.
Be generous share your chocolates and treats. It is, after all, the season for giving. I’m all for sharing out the calories.
Watch your portions – maybe eat less stuffing and choose a larger portion of vegetables.
Don’t eat to please and ignore, “Oh go on it’s Christmas...”. If I’ve asked for a smaller slice, then I’ll fib and say I might have some more later.
Be moderate with the extras such as the cream, gravy, brandy butter and mayonnaise. Add just enough to enhance the dish, don’t swamp it.
Eat from a plate, not the serving platters. For example, I’ll choose my crackers and cheese and put them on a small plate with sides. If I keep helping myself from the serving dish, before I know it I’ve eaten nine crackers and half a pound of cheese.
Move on if you overdo it, and make a healthier choice next time.
For more healthy eating tips take a look at these 30 top tips for weight loss and healthy eating.
If you do overindulge here are 10 things I do to get back on track.