According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4500 calories during a typical holiday gathering dinner1 which includes 229 grams of fat. And those calories don’t even include the other meals that are outside of the holiday dinner that day. Add snacking and nibbling before dinner time and you’ve eaten about another 1500 calories.
If you consider that a pound of fat has 3500 calories then you will understand why most people gain weight during the holidays. The good news is that half the holiday weight is lost shortly after the holidays while the not so good news is that the other half sticks around till after the summer time2 .
So what can you to do to prevent weight gain in the first place? After all the less you gain the less you have to lose after the holiday feasts!
Here are my tips and tricks to maintain your waistline even if you love to eat:
Use Smaller Plates
This is a psychological trick because plate size tricks our brains in thinking we’re eating more or less based on the plate size we use.
A small plate that is filled with food looks like we’re eating a lot more than if we take a dinner plate and place the same amount of food in it. We eat and get full on the volume of food we eat not necessarily the amount of calories we eat3 .
Studies have shown that we eat about the same amount of food everyday. But if our brain thinks we ate less food than normal we will feel hungry while thinking we ate more food than we normally eat will make us feel fuller.
So for holiday dinners and parties, load your food on a smaller plate to trick your brain into thinking you’re stuffed. Doing so will save you money from buying bigger clothes next year!
I gotta say that living in the land of abundance, food is something we take for granted and we mostly eat our foods in a rush or on the go. We don’t pay too much attention to what we’re eating or how much we’re eating unless we’re on a diet.
I think that’s really sad and it’s a bad habit as well because we don’t really appreciate what we’re eating.
For me, I’m a very slow eater and I cannot have a conversation while chewing my food at the same time because it diverts my mind from the pleasure of enjoying my food. This is one of the reasons I hated doing lunch interviews when I worked in corporate.
Turns out there are plenty of benefits of taking 15 to 20 minutes to eat your meals.
First off eating should be enjoyed. Instead of thinking you only feed yourself to keep yourself alive think that you are eating to nourish yourself.
Second, when you thoroughly chew your food you’re helping your body break down the food so that it can be fully digested and the nutrition extracted for your health and wellbeing.
Third, the slower you eat the more time you allow your hunger hormone gherlin to decrease, sending a signal to the brain that your stomach is full and you are fed.
Eating slower prevents overeating unnecessary calories. So enjoy your food and really experience the flavors and textures it offers your mouth by eating slowly.
Eat a meal before you get there
I often find myself at networking/holiday events eating a lot more than I intended even if the food was not that great or it was not something I would even buy. But because I was starving by the time I arrived at the event I found myself going back for seconds!
The take home lesson that I learned to prevent myself from eating unwanted food when I was at any event was simply to eat at home beforehand. I would eat my protein and vegetables to make sure I got my nutrition in then when I arrived at the event I wouldn’t be so prone to eating crappy food or if I did (and let’s face it, I’m human so I do it sometimes!) I wouldn’t eat as much of it.
If you want to prevent the proverbial weight gain that happens around this time of the year do a hunger check in before you go. If you’re ravenous go eat a healthy meal with lots of lean protein then go to the holiday party or gala. This will prevent you from loading up your plate with unhealthy calorie dense foods that don’t fill you up.
Out of sight, out of mind
Don’t hang out around the food. Go across the room and mingle on the otherside away from the food table. This way temptation won’t be knocking on your door every second and you won’t be triggered to have another bite or another piece of something.
People underestimate how much of a role your environment plays in dictating your behavior. Instead of using limited willpower to resist having seconds or do more snacking just remove yourself so that it becomes harder to perform that behavior.
Keep working out
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean it’s time to take a vacay from your workouts. In fact, it’s even more important to maintain your schedule and to workout because you’re going to be eating extra over the next month and half.
In fact, the best times to workout are over the holidays!
You know why? Because everyone else is on vacay or slacking off due to the holidays. That means the gyms are going to be empty and you’ll have all the equipment to yourself and what better time to try out that new exercise on YouTube than when no one is looking?
Keep working out and you’ll be ahead of everyone else when 2018 rolls around plus you’ll be in better shape too. ;)
Start reducing your calorie intake
Since I’m always out of town with family over the holidays I get bombarded by the new foods and new restaurants that I want to try on top of eating holiday dinners. I joke with my sister that I’m getting fat just by looking at the pictures she sends me on the new dishes she wants me to try out when I visit.
What I do before I head out of town is I starting cutting out my snacks and start reducing what I eat leading up to the trip.
For instance I’m flying out early Monday morning which means I won’t be eating breakfast at my normal time and instead of grabbing something from SFO I’m going to skip breakfast and wait for lunch when I arrive in San Diego.
Skipping breakfast gives me a caloric buffer of about 500 calories which I can put towards other meals for that day or add it up and put towards the big holiday dinner on Thursday. If I do eat breakfast, I will focus mostly on protein and save my carbs for later on that day.
So start reducing what you're eating leading up to the big holiday dinner days that way your weight gain won't be as significant.
One More Thing
If you’re going to apply those tips and adhere to them over the holiday season that’s great! They are simple to remember, you just need to take action on them.
But what if that’s not enough and you blow your diet year after year and you just keep accumulating extra pounds? And deep down you’re afraid it’s going to happen again this year?
Then maybe this is for you…
What if you got,
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Enjoy your holidays!