Yay! The holiday season is here and it’s time to eat, drink, and be merry! But how can you enjoy your time with family and friends without gaining weight from all the sweets and treats? Nobody really wants to think about dieting this time of year so go ahead and put that idea on hold for after the New Year. What you should be thinking about is having a wonderful holiday without gaining those dreaded holiday pounds. It’s a reasonable and doable goal to try to end the season at the same weight you started – hence, the term “Weight Neutral Holiday”. Here are some strategies that can help but won’t put a damper on your holiday spirit! (And remember, if you need help getting weight off after the holidays are over, DreamBody is here for you!)
1. STAY CALM
Remember, every day is a chance to learn and grow. If you “slip up” that does not mean you are a bad person. It’s important to stay positive and not let one or two bad food choices spoil the whole season for you.
2. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
Try to be realistic—not eating cookies for the whole month of December is probably impossible for pretty much anyone. (Plus, it’s no fun!) Not eating cookies at the office is a more achievable goal. Try to look at the events you have coming up so that you can decide where and when it will be okay for you to splurge. One event per week is probably fine and checking your calendar ahead of time will help you be aware of any possible “over celebrating”.
3. PLAN AHEAD
Once you’ve decided what is worth a splurge and what isn’t, you need a plan. At the “non-splurge” events, remember that food is not your reason for attending. You are there to enjoy people and activities, but it doesn’t hurt to try to set yourself up for success. If the gathering is a shorter cocktail type party, make sure to eat something healthy before you go. Not being hungry is a great way to avoid binging on food that isn’t worth it! If you are at a longer event like a dinner, try to eat the salads and vegetables rather than the starches and carbs. Protein will also help fill you up so that dessert is much less tempting. Also, be aware that alcohol is high in sugar and carbs and try to pick better choices like white wine or light beer.
4. BE READY FOR OBSTACLES
Having a plan and executing it are not always the same thing so it is good to be prepared for obstacles. Buffets can be hard for many people, while others have a hard time not filling up on appetizers before the main meal. Or maybe you do great during the main meal but then succumb to the charms of the dessert table? Buffets are tough – there are so many choices! Make a commitment to yourself that you will eat just one plate of satisfying food. Also, try to look for options that are as healthy as possible but still taste good and then eat as slowly as you can. By being prepared for pitfalls, you can give your willpower a nice boost!
5. BE REALISTIC
If you want your plan to succeed, it is a good idea to be realistic. Know your limitations and abilities. If you can find out more about the event and what to expect it will help you stay on track. If you are feeling like you might have trouble resisting unhealthy choices, maybe recruit a friend or family member to give you moral support.
6. STICK TO YOUR GOOD HABITS
Even at home, there is probably a lot of temptation to splurge. Try to make sure that you keep up any healthy habits you already have – like working out, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep. These good habits will help you practice moderation. Instead of getting derailed, try to think of a brisk walk or a bit of yoga as a reward for getting through the helter-skelter of the holidays. Keep using a fitness app to track calories and exercise – sometimes it helps to just be aware of what you’re doing.
7. CELEBRATE WHEN YOU WIN
Make sure you celebrate your victories, even the small ones. If you want to form lasting habits, it is important to associate healthy behaviors with positive feelings. Smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, can convince your brain that something good is happening. So, make sure to put a smile on your face when you pass up the dessert table. And, no matter how small your success is, focus on it right as you experience it and congratulate yourself. Feeling successful is very motivating!
8. MISTAKES ARE A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
You may slip up a few times and that’s ok. The trick is not to pile on more mistakes. (So if you eat two or three handfuls of Christmas candies, don’t eat the whole bag because you already “messed up”.) Instead, think about what you can do differently next time. Come up with real strategies, not just platitudes. So don’t say, “I’ll be stronger next time”, instead, think about maybe consuming more protein at the meal so you will feel fuller by dessert time. Concrete strategies are much more useful in helping yourself to stick to your plan.
9. BE FLEXIBLE
Life can change rapidly and you may need to adjust your plans and strategies. Again, look at it as a learning opportunity. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances is an essential life skill all year round – not just at the holidays. Making a change in your plan is not failure – it’s a sign that you are able to look ahead and able to get the most joy out of the season as possible!
Finally, if you end up in January with a few extra pounds, DreamBody Medical Clinics are there to help you with plenty of options to get you back into your ideal shape!