Food and Drink Indulgences During the Holidays Should be Encouraged (With a Healthy Balance)
I like the holidays. I like to eat hedonistically and usually overdo the drink too. My dear friends know that champagne is ma boisson préférée (my favorite drink) and what better time of the year than during the holidays to open a few bottles?
But I will tell you a secret: if we plan a bit, add some willpower, use meal-discipline and don’t give up until la fiesta is over, we can both survive the holidays without gaining a single pound.
Despite popular belief, fat doesn’t magically land on our hips and waist overnight. It sneaks up on us. Take a week or two of eating and drinking more than usual (and moving less) and voilà, January arrives and our clothes seem to fit a little tighter. We regretfully step on the scale and cannot believe how fast those five pounds landed (and in the wrong places).
Here are my five simple strategies to follow during the next month. I can guarantee that if you follow them with vigor you won’t wake up in January with a scale shock.
5 Weight Control Tips To Not Gain Those 5 Holiday Pounds
1. Plan Ahead
1. Strategy number one is to plan. You have the next four weeks to get through. Divide segments by each week and plan for the following:
- Weekly food menu at home, including food shopping lists and pre-planned home menus
- Exercise times scheduled (in pen) on your calendar (more on this in the physical activity strategy below).
- Schedule stress releasing activities: ex: walking the dog, yoga, downtime, walk in nature
- Tweak your to-do list so not to leave the to-do(s) until the last-minute
Plan and stick to your food menus, exercise schedule and stress releasing times. Let me know if you need more details on how to do this.
2. Party Strategy
2. Party strategy is the second way to get through the holidays in the same shape you were in before.
When you host a party, go to a party or go out for a festive dinner here is your key to weight success: Hunger Management
Go to your party on a half hungry stomach, not a ravenous starving stomach.
What happens when we are so crazy with hunger? We dive in and eat n’importe quoi (whatever there is available). Our starving hunger tells our hands to grab the wrong things to eat. Why fill up on potato chips and nuts (which are normal party starters) when you can wait and indulge on what I call real food (that is the main meal highlights of the party)? Wait for the good stuff and with strategy four ahead you can do this!
3. Physical Activity
1. Continuing with your normal physical activity is the next key strategy to staying scale friendly.
Holiday time is the most important period during the year to use exercise as a stress release, for weight control and feel good mood outlets. Forget about January to pump up exercise. It is now during the festive season when you must hit the floor running. If you don’t do any physical activity why not add a quick half hour walk a few times a week to your weekly planning?
Keeping yourself moving helps to:
- sleep better
- fit into party clothes better
- decrease stress and increase mood
- burn calories
Here is what usually happens during the holiday season. Your time gets booked up with parties (see strategy three) and too much to do. This is where strategy one is important. Plan your weekly exercise schedule and substitute some physical activity on other times where you may be missing your regular gym class or walk. A few hours more a week of moving around will return to you with more productivity and better sleep.
4. Hunger Planning and Portion Control
4. Hunger planning and portion control actually work hand in hand. And this fourth strategy requires some advance effort. In order to succeed you have to plan on not being hungry. When you control your hunger, plan for it and listen to it, you will naturally eat smaller portions (not like in the picture above (yikes!)).
In France there is a culture of meal discipline and not snacking between meals. So we can use this model. How does the average French person stop from snacking and use hunger planning? Through a method of what I call meal discipline.
Meal discipline means eating regular meals at regular times without the need to snack in between. A meal is a time of détente and to satisfy our hunger without overeating.
Why is this important during the holidays? Controlling your hunger and not being hungry between meals will help stop grabbing for all the festive cakes, chocolates and cookies that surround us at our home, work and basically everywhere. Similar to the not arriving to a party ravenously hungry, using hunger management helps to not snack and overeat. The holiday cookies are delicious, but slip 2-3 in your mouth at the coffee break and you have broken the golden rule of meal discipline and keeping those pounds off. In substitute, add one cookie to the end of a meal which helps to increase satiety and decrease portion sizes.
And when you sit down to eat at your regular meals (that you have planned out on strategy one) you will eat smaller portions of foods you love. Practice mindful eating and strive for gourmet not gourmand. Don’t give in to the pressure of your family, friends, work colleagues or anyone to eat more than you want. It is your mouth and your body that you live with and only you know when you are full. Think of the Italian word basta (enough). Hey, you can always ask for seconds if you are still hungry, right?
5. Power Nap and Enough Sleep
5.Getting enough sleep during the busy season is probably not the easiest strategy to carry out. Having enough shut-eye will help with stress, focus and believe it or not, with weight control. But I often do not get enough sleep and therefore have a regular habit: I embrace the art of power napping. A quick when you need it or everyday nap of 10-15 minutes. A short siesta gives you the power to get through anything! Your choice: enough shut-eye at night or power nap. Either way sleep is very important (and using strategy three, enough physical activity is key to getting a restful sleep).
How to Use These Five Strategies When Traveling or Visiting Family During the Holidays
Being away from home and our regular routine doesn’t mean we can’t have our cake and eat it too. While holiday meals are a moment to sip and savor rich foods and desserts en famille, using the five strategies above you can still enjoy eating with pleasure and balance with keeping in touch with your body. Here are some ideas:
- Plan your travel and visiting time to include healthy snacks while on the road. Schedule some time while visiting to take at least a 20 minute daily power walk. Bring the kids, the dog or just do it (alone).
- Party Hunger Management: don’t get too hungry for the parties (refer above to strategy two).
- Physical Activity: Bring your bathing suit and/or sneakers in your luggage. You can sneak away for a quick walk (shhh!)
- Portion Control: Don’t give into the pressures from mom who shows her love by filling up your plate or begging you to take more of her famous mashed potatoes. If you are full, say no (and then eat her leftovers).
- Finally, when visiting or traveling it may be impossible to get enough sleep. So do like I do: power nap!
And to help feel better the day after those exceptionally big holiday meals, read an article I posted last week on detoxing your body after a holiday.
Have I left anything out? Do you have a strategy that you would to share? Please let us know by commenting below this article. Come on back and visit in January and let me know how these strategies worked for you.
Note: Received an excellent suggestion from Lady In Red and I quote her,
Here’s another trick – drink a glass of water before the holiday party / meal starts. Many times we mistake thirst for hunger. This will slow down your consumption of food. Also, between alcoholic drinks. get a glass of water. Water has no calories, will head off the dehydration from the martinis/wine/beer, will fill you up so you won’t want as much, and your head will thank you the next day!
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Happy Holidays and Good Health to All,