Let’s face it, the holidays can be tough for those of us trying (hoping?) not to let the celebrations create a situation we’ll regret later when it comes to food and eating. It can feel like it requires superhuman willpower to get through parties and cookie swaps without overindulging. And how many of us just decide it’s just easier to put off the inevitable until after New Years. Unfortunately, as we all know, excess pounds don't disappear along with the decorations. And who wants to start off the new year already behind the eight ball with regard to weight and health?
Well, the reality is that although most of us gain weight over the holidays, it really doesn’t need to be that way. It is possible to get through -- and even enjoy -- the festivities without falling into the endless temptation and weight gain craziness. Check out these 10 strategies so you wake up on January 2nd with integrity, feeling your best.
Stick With 3 Square Meals
Cutting back all day so you can indulge at an event that night is a set-up for going overboard, especially when there are unhealthy choices everywhere. When you arrive to an event starving, it’s easy to let food get out of control. Do your best to keep to 3 regular meals, spread evenly throughout the day.
Avoid Endless Leftovers
Having a fantastic meal filled with indulgences is one thing, but having those leftovers for days and days afterward is where the real trouble starts. If the party’s at your house, send guests home with food-filled Tupperware. And if it’s at someone else’s house, politely decline the Tupperware filled with sugary treats.
Try The “Maybe Later” Trick
Under the spell of the fudge your co-worker brought to the office? Before you succumb, try this simple trick: Tell yourself, "Hold on, if you really want it you can have some later." Wait an hour --return phone calls, check email--and chances are your craving will be gone and you’ll have moved on.
Brew Up A Cup Of Tea
Having something warm and comforting to drink can hit the spot for making you feel good and eliminate the need for other mindless indulgences.
Put Some Distance Between You And The Munchies
Did you know that just having unhealthy foods be further away will have you eating less of them than if you stood closer? This is totally crazy but true. The more inconvenient the path between you and them, the better. If you have any in the house, put them where you won’t see them.
Weigh Yourself Regularly
You may hate me for saying this. I know the scale is not everyone’s best friend, but getting real about where you’re at and tracking your fluctuations is one of the best ways to stay honest with yourself and not just throw in the towel because it happens to be December. Whether it’s every day or once a week, step on the scale on a regular basis throughout the holidays (and beyond). Tracking your weight will make it much more likely that you'll make healthy food choices. However often you do it, do it first thing in the morning before eating.
Start Your Day On The Right Foot
Rather than starting your day running around stressed, schedule in a little time to get your day started right. Exercising in the morning can help ensure healthier behaviors all day long, according to a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. This is not just about burning calories. Using brain scans, researchers found that when women exercised in the morning, they moved more the rest of the day and also responded less to pictures of tempting food.
A few minutes of mediation or just focused sitting time can do wonders for strengthening willpower the rest of the day. And taking a moment to visualize and/or plan how you want your day to go can make a huge difference.
Find Little Windows Of Time To Move
Sure it would be great to get to the gym every day, but research shows there’s an even more efficient way to stay healthy and burn calories. One of those is NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is just a long name for the movement you do that’s not considered “exercise,” like standing, walking, fidgeting, doing house chores, etc. and it burns off way more than you would think. It’s easy to fit this type of movement in by making small changes like standing while you work instead of sitting, scheduling in times every half hour to get up and walk to the rest room or get water, or throw in some stretches or squats when you’re waiting around.
Eat The Healthy Offerings First
This will get ensure you get in your nutritious food and leave less room for less healthy options. For example, hot soup as a first course―especially when it's broth-based―can help you avoid over eating. And eat your vegetables!
If you are going to indulge, choose your indulgences wisely. Check out all the items before deciding what you want to eat. And then just pick foods you really want and have those in moderation. If you’re not really going to enjoy it, why bother? Pick items that are truly special and savor every bite.