You have been doing so well with this weight loss thing. Despite a pandemic, a volatile election year, and civil unrest.
It has been a tough year to embark upon self-improvement. And, the upcoming holiday season will, no doubt, add to that difficulty.
Good news! There are ways to prepare for the holiday feast and avoid gaining back the weight you have lost this year.
As I have said time and time again, weight loss is a mental game. We often eat the wrong foods or eat too much food because we feel left out when those around us are indulging. This is especially true during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Another mental game relates to our emotions. Holidays invoke a nostalgia that drives our decision making. For instance, you always have grandma's pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Or, that is the one time of the year you make your famous turkey and dressing.
To be fair, our physical craving for certain foods during the holidays are real. I am not going to advise you to ignore these mental and physical triggers but I am going to teach you how to enjoy your favorite foods without setting your weight loss progress back.
Portion control: you can have grandma's pumpkin pie... just not 2 large slices this year. Instead, eat a small slice, slowly. Eating foods slowly allows us to truly savor the taste. Most of us find we did not need a larger piece or a second helping!
Eat slow (I know, I just said that)... but, eat everything slowly. In fact, try to be the last person to finish their meal. Why? This will prevent you from returning for seconds. It will also give your stomach time to alert your brain that you are full. So, put your fork down between bites, chew slowly, take a drink between bites, and enjoy each morsel.
Eat from a smaller plate. This gives you the illusion you are eating more. It seems simple, but it works!
If you host the holiday meal, clear the kitchen after food is served. If food is not left sitting around, it is less likely you will go back for more. Another tip for hosting: send the leftovers home with family and friends! If they do not want the leftovers or cannot take them due to travel, box them up and take them to an elderly neighbor or a family who may need the food. This year, more than ever, there will be older folks who won't see much family around the holidays due to covid-19. Your generosity may be the highlight of their Thanksgiving!
Get up and move after you eat. As tempting as turkey comas can be, you will burn much more off if you take a brisk walk, throw the football around with the kids, or offer to clean the kitchen. Avoid the nap!
If you are going to a relative or friend's home for the holiday meal, offer to bring a dish (or two) that you know is in your calorie range. Offer a healthy dish for yourself and others! Who knows, it may become a holiday favorite?
Last but not least, because we are all guilty of this one... DO NOT SAVE YOUR CALORIES FOR THE BIG MEAL! It seems like sound logic. You know your will eat more than you normally eat, so you avoid eating all day to not break your calorie budget. Bad idea! Why? You come to the holiday meal starving and this causes you to eat more! What do you do instead? Start the day with a protein shake followed by lots and lots of water. About an hour before the big meal, have another shake or a protein bar. You will still feel hunger when you smell the delicious food but you will find you cannot eat as much.
By all means, do not dread the holidays! The key is preparation. And remember, one day will not break you. Enjoy your holiday meal and return to the diet plan the next day.
Most of all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and try to enjoy it the best we can this crazy year!