I love all the trimmings of the holiday season—festive lights, brightly-wrapped presents, mistletoe over the doorway, carols in the air. I even like those giant inflatable snowmen and plastic reindeer in people’s front yards. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the holidays.
However, as a weight-loss specialist, I know that one holiday tradition can cause problems for many people. That’s the tradition of loading our tables with tons of sugary, high-carb, fattening foods. For my clients (and even for me), it can be a real challenge to avoid overeating when there’s so much temptation in sight.
Luckily, I’ve come up with a dozen strategies that help me stay trim and still let me enjoy holiday treats. They’re easy to implement, and they’re powerful protection against holiday weight gain. Here they are:
Aim for “healthyish.” Make good choices most of the time, but allow yourself an occasional indulgence. Remember my 80/20 rule: If you eat healthy food and watch your portion sizes for 80% of your meals, you can sprinkle a little fairy dust on the other meals without doing any damage.
Limit yourself to one sin per day. Another trick is to allow yourself one “cheat” every day. This way, you’ll learn to make your indulgences count. Just remember: An entire pie does not count as one cheat!
Follow the twenty-minute rule. Frequently, it’s tempting to reach for seconds the instant you finish a plateful of delicious holiday food. But resist this urge. Instead, tell yourself, “If I’m still hungry in twenty minutes, I can have seconds.” That’s how long it takes your body to realize that you’re full.
Beware of the buffet. It’s tough to stay in control when you’re confronted by dozens of platters of tempting food. Your best strategy is to pick the smallest plate available and load it with healthy salads and veggies. Then take just a small spoonful of each wicked thing you’d like to try.
Nibble before you go. An hour or so before you go to a party, eat a small snack—for instance, some salmon or turkey and a generous serving of non-starchy veggies topped with a little healthy dressing. This will take the edge off your appetite.
Drink wisely. Steer clear of sugary mixed drinks and eggnog. Instead, reach for wine, vodka, tequila, or rum—no soda mixers! And limit yourself to one or two drinks, because you won’t make wise food choices if you’re tipsy.
Give your hosts a heads-up. If you’re on a gluten-free or dairy-free diet, mention this to your hosts. Don’t imply that they need to change their entire menu for you; instead, simply ask if you can bring a dish or two of your own.
Drink plenty of water. Your body can confuse thirst for hunger, leading you to overeat. Avoid this problem by sipping on plenty of water throughout the day, as well as mugs of bone broth or tea.
Try just a taste. If you’re craving that pecan pie or plum pudding, take a few bites of it. Really savor each bite, and you’re likely to find that you’re satisfied once you’re done.
Be generous with your leftovers. When you host a party, send your guests home with doggie bags. They’ll appreciate the extra food, and it won’t be sitting in your fridge waiting to tempt you.
Start new traditions. If you typically spend the holidays baking fattening pies, cakes, and cookies, do something different this year. Make big batches of healthy soups, chili, or bone broth, freeze them in Mason jars (leave an inch or more of room at the top and cool before freezing), and hand them out to your friends. You’ll have just as much fun in the kitchen, and you can taste your treats as you cook without putting on pounds. And believe me: When people get sick to death of holiday junk, they’ll be truly grateful for some real, delicious food that they don’t need to cook themselves.
Make time for a morning workout. When you exercise early in the day, you’ll get your metabolism humming—and that’ll make it easier to burn off your indulgences. In addition, starting your day in a healthy way helps you stay focused on your health goals.
These twelve simple tricks will stave off extra pounds, while letting you sample all of your favorite treats. And best of all, you’ll end the year weighing just what you did before the holidays… or maybe even a little less. How’s that for holiday magic?
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!