Five Realistic Tips for Managing Your Weight During the Holidays
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but being jolly doesn’t mean that you have to acquire St. Nick’s waistline or that you have to feel like a stuffed turkey every time you leave a holiday gathering! After years of helping clients slim down with realistic strategies, I’ve put together a list of the top 5 tips for managing your weight this holiday season.
This is easier said than done, I know. The holidays bring a lot of stress for a lot of people. You may have to endure sharing a meal with that dreaded uncle you see once a year. You may have anxiety about schlepping your kids and your belongings through the airport on the busiest travel day of the year to visit your in laws. You may be struggling to pay the electricity bill, and you’re not sure how you’re going to manage providing gifts for your children under the tree. Whatever is ailing you, try to take a moment amidst the chaos to decompress, because guess what – it’s not a coincidence that one of the most stressful times of the year is also the time that people tend to pack on the pounds. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” affects your body’s blood-glucose levels. In short, stress can make you fat. Strategies to limit stress are meditation, exercise, and getting adequate sleep. Oh, and my favorite tip — avoid all the stress of holiday traffic and buy all your gifts online!
I don’t know about you, but I find that my willpower exists at the grocery store. If it’s in my house, I have a hard time saying no in a moment of weakness. If your family is anything like mine, preparing a meal for 10 equates to food for 50! Hosting a holiday gathering at your house can set you up to have decadent leftovers for days. The solution is simple, distribute the surplus of food among your guests and insist that they take it home! Add disposable food containers to your grocery list and wave good-bye to the cornbread stuffing until you meet again next year. If you’re attending a holiday get together, call the host or hostess and let them know that you’ll bring a dish. They’ll be happy for the help, and you’ll ensure that there’s something at the party that you will feel good about eating. Roasted vegetables anyone?
If you’re going to consume sugar, eat it — don’t drink it
I’m not going to tell you to not consume sugar … I mean, that would be ideal for weight loss, but during the holidays, it’s not always realistic. Part of what makes the holidays special is enjoying the culinary creations that have become family traditions. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without pie, and I’m not sure it’s really Christmas until I’ve had one of my mom’s sugar cookies. That being said, sugar consumption is the greatest culprit for waistline woes. A good trick if you’re going to ingest sugar is to chew it instead of guzzling it. Have you ever packed a blender with more fruit and veggies than you could ever eat, whirled it around, and then sucked down your 24oz green smoothie in 30 seconds flat and still felt hungry? Drinking has a different satiating effect on the body. Since we can drink a whole lot faster than we can eat, it doesn’t allow our brain time to register that we’ve had enough. So, put down your sugar laden pumpkin spice latte, and enjoy a piece of your grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie instead!
Make wise choices
Everyone has those one or two dishes that you look forward to all year. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s seafood gumbo or your aunt’s baked macaroni and cheese. For me, it’s my mother in law’s shrimp mirliton dressing and my mom’s sausage stuffing. Whatever you do, don’t mess with these recipes and be sure to satisfy your craving, but make wise choices with everything else. For example, if mashed potatoes don’t thrill you, try mashing cauliflower instead. I prepare a version with coconut milk, garlic, and butter that I actually prefer to the starchy potato classic. I skip the rolls completely because I can I have a roll any day of the year! For dessert, I wait to serve myself toward the end. When I hear the words, “Oh my goodness, I NEED this recipe! This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten,” I snag a piece of whatever that is – everything else is probably not worth the calories!
Workout with family
I know … it’s cold outside and you’d much rather be relaxing by the fire than getting your sweat on, but I promise that you’ll feel a lot better if you don’t neglect your workout. This time of year is centered around family, so I understand if you feel guilty for taking time out of the day for yourself. Instead of heading to the gym, why not organize a family-friendly activity that just so happens to get your heart rate up? Coordinate a game of touch football in the back yard, or take a group bike ride through the park. Not only will you be sticking to your workout commitment, but you also be creating memories with loved ones. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?