Or, you can at least make it a weight-neutral holiday season if actual weight loss seems too much of a holiday spirit-killing burden. First, though, put down that plate of steaming hot-out-of-the-oven pecan pie smothered in whipped cream and let's talk about this. Granted, going easy on food (and drink) during the holidays is like a day without sunshine in sunny southern California, but you do want to emerge on the other end of this in 2018 feeling good about yourself, right?
It's Not Too Late to Set a GoalOK, so it's already mid-December and Christmas is just a little over a week away, so you might be thinking: Well, it's too late, and there's no going back at this late stage of the holiday season. Therefore, game on! Not so fast: it's time for some self-induced motivation, like weighing yourself right now – egads! – and consider today as Day One of your holiday plan to cut back. Set for yourself a goal to lose X number of pounds between now and January 2, and follow some or most of the tips outlined below to help get you to where you want to be. Be encouraged by this: according to the New York Times, the average person gains just a pound or two during this holiday season, with only 10 percent of people gaining five or more pounds. Don't think of your new plan as an actual diet. I'm usually against dieting during the holidays, says certified holistic life coach Tatiana Tajci Cameron, author of 25 Gifts for Christmas. There are too many people who put a lot of effort into making delicious homemade treats (rarely low-calorie) that I don't want to refuse. In my (native Croatian) culture, making food for someone is a sacred gift, so refusing can send a wrong message. But I never gain weight during the holidays, either. I cut down on carbs and processed foods (at home), and I don't touch anything (at parties) that's not a vegetable, fruit, or homemade (no need to use up your daily calorie intake on Oreos or Cheetos or store-bought puff pastry). About those sugar-based holiday goodies: per muscleandfitness.com, research has shown that consumption of sugar can lead to an unhealthy cycle of cravings and binges because of the insulin spikes from the high sugar content. Also note that the stomach is elastic – the more food you cram into it, the more it will expand and therefore adapt, allowing you to consume even larger amounts of food. You don't want that, do you? OK, then.
Tips for Avoiding Extra Weight Over the Holidays
- Eat a daily breakfast. You need breakfast to get your metabolism moving and to help make you less hungry later in the day.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated makes you feel fuller and less inclined to eat too much. And all that processed food you eat at the holidays? They are loaded with sodium, which means water retention. Drinking more water means you are less likely to hold it, per cosmopolitan.com.
- Work out daily. A nice, brisk morning walk or jog of 30 minutes or more goes a long way. Lay out your workout clothes the night before and make plans to meet up with a friend for some mutual motivation.
- Bring your own food to the party. Choose a healthy, low-cal recipe you can make and then bring it with you, inviting others to partake.
- Nibble, don't gorge. Even if served a big feast dining among others, eat half of what you might normally eat, and then nibble on healthy snacks such as veggies between meals.
- Focus on eating protein. Helps keep you fuller longer. Find it in turkey, chicken, or ham.
- Get plenty of fiber, too. Snacking on veggies leaves us feeling fuller, longer.
- Use smaller plates. This tip comes via greatist.com. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Think of it as your own jedi mind trick, in honor of the new Star Wars movie out this month.
- Curb your pre-meal appetite. Sneak a small salad before a feast. I make sure I eat fresh salads before every meal, Cameron says. I dress them with a light sprinkle of olive oil, pinch of sugar and good quality red wine vinegar.
- Hold off on seconds. Give your mind time to catch up with your stomach, and you'll feel less likely to chow down in excess. Likewise, eat and chew slowly. Allow plenty of time for conversation (and no speaking when mouth is full).
- Turn off the TV. Parking yourself in front of a TV, even if just for 15-20 minutes, kicks in bad habits of consuming more while watching the tube. Good grief – turn off the TV and engage in some real human conversation, you know?
- Go easy on the booze. If it feels awkward without a drink in hand, sip water or a club soda, suggests webmd.com.
Supplements Can Help, TooNow that we are deep into the holiday season, it's a bit much to expect that starting a new supplement regimen is going to help much between now and Jan. 2. So, consider this a good time to get a head start on your New Year's weight-loss resolution. Here's a few to think about:
- Calcium. A mineral that works in tandem with vitamin D to help shed fat, per womenshealthmag.com. Also promotes weight loss by binding to fat in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Enhances weight loss by working as a catalyst for enzymes that in turn trigger fat-burning in cells.
- Whey protein. Start with the fact it helps suppress appetite while also helping in muscle growth, with every pound of muscle replacing fat and thus boosting metabolism, per mensfitness.com.
- Glutamine. An amino acid that helps enhance glucose metabolism.
- Chitosan. Also known as shark cartilage, per mensfitness.com, chitosan is a fiber that also helps keep you full longer.