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Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Putting on pounds over the holidays is an American tradition. It starts with the twin excuses for overindulgence, Halloween and Thanksgiving. From there it's a downhill slide into December parties and the food hangover that is New Years Day.

You resolve to take the pounds off in January, but wouldn't it be great if you avoided the weight gain in the first place? Then you could concentrate on getting in even better shape, instead of fighting to get back to where you were just a couple of months before. Here's how.

Avoid temptations you create at home. If you're making a cake, cookies or something else unhealthy, keep a piece of chewing gum in your mouth. You want something that'll interfere with your desire to grab a handful of chocolate chips or lick the bowl when you're done.

When you go to a party, bring something healthy to share. Then no matter what your host has laid out, you'll still have something good to nibble on. I always put it on a gift plate. That way if the host doesn't have any more serving platters it's no problem leaving behind because it's intended for them anyway. Whenever I've done this it's amazing how many guests are relieved there's something available that won't blow their diet.

Sometimes bringing a dish of your own just isn't an option. You might be heading over straight from work, the party is being catered or you don't know the host well enough to ask if they'd mind. In those cases, try the "one bite only" plan. That's where you allow yourself to eat anything that's laid out. The only catch is that you have to limit yourself to one bite per item and no more.

That doesn't mean a bite you have to unhinge your jaw for. It must be a normal bite that you chew thoroughly. If there are fifteen types of cookies, you may not take a sample of each one. A single bite from a cookie, a single bite from a cake, a single bite of candy and so on. You enjoy the flavors while still exercising portion control.

Now let's say there's a buffet with dozens of things to sample and even restricting yourself to a single bite of each would be a caloric disaster. In those cases, only sample the things you don't get the rest of the year. Skip the chips and crackers but perhaps enjoy a small glass of eggnog. Make your choices special, not common.

Once you're done, move away from the food. It can take 15 to 20 minutes before your stomach tells your brain you're full.

Don't be afraid to get out early. If you've gone through everything and still find yourself craving, then thank the host and go home. You can't pig out if the food isn't around.

If you can't leave without a helping of leftovers, ask for more of the meat or vegetables and skip the sweets. You're less likely to indulge in green beans than pecan pie. Of course, you may not have a choice. Sometimes your host will simply hand you a plate to take home they've already prepared. In those cases be gracious, thank them and take the food. When you get home either throw it in the garbage or flush it down the toilet. Then wash the plate so you can return it with a thank you note. Just because they gave it to you, doesn't mean you're obligated to eat it.

For those of you constantly surrounded by food, start keeping a journal or notebook. Commit yourself to writing down everything you eat and drink over the holidays. It's a great way to stay accountable. You're far less likely to down a half dozen sugar cookies if you have to document it somewhere.

Not the type that likes to write? Get some Post-it notes and put one on your refrigerator for every piece of cake, candy or fatty food that's not on your healthy food plan. Keep them up for a week as a visual reminder of what you're really eating. Seeing that you "slip" four or five times a day may be the kick you need to be more careful.

Putting on weight over the holidays isn't inevitable. Follow these strategies and in January you'll be more fit than fat.

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