One of the toughest times of the year for those trying to lose weight is the holiday season. Many people will gain between 5 and 7 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year's. While the holidays are a time to rejoice, celebrate and share fond memories, they are also a time for eating, eating and more eating. Wherever you go, whatever you do, food always seems to be the central focus. Cookies, chocolates, fruit cake, eggnog, holiday breads and a myriad of other 'goodies' can been seen in the kitchen, on the coffee table, at the office, grocery store, friend's house... even your chiropractor's office! How can you try to maintain your weight and heart-health during such a tempting time? I've come up with 4-steps to surviving the holiday hoopla that is surefire success - this season and in the future ones to come.
1. Limit your sweets to one-a-day
While you can't control every situation, you can control how much food goes into your mouth. If you are constantly bombarded with holiday parties and displays of desserts or candies you can still effectively help prevent overeating and weight gain. One way is the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren't confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day - but don't compensate and double-up on your serving the next day.
2. Don't starve yourself all day to justify eating more at dinner.
Eating a satisfying breakfast can ward off the temptation to overindulge later in the day. I recommend eating 3-5 small meals throughout the day. Portion control is a must. If you miss this one you could easily consume 2000-3000 calories in one meal! This is how people pack on the pounds.
3. Planned physical activity.
Get moving. Take a family walk before the "big" meal, and take one after the "big" meal. Get outside and get some fresh air. Make it a priority by scheduling daily activity into your routine. Physical activity is an effective method for preventing weight gain during the holidays by burning calories, suppressing appetite, and helping deal with stress (you know, the stress from hanging out with the in-laws for a week). Physical activity is the common denominator for losing weight and keeping it off. Some ideas are flag football, ice skating, skiing, or an extra lap around the mall when shopping.
4. Say No
Inevitably there will be people that try to get you to overeat. "You just have to try these cookies." Sound familiar? Or I love this one "there is only a little left, just finish it up." Or even tougher to turn down; "I made these especially for you, have some." It can be difficult turning down offers of food at the holidays because you don't want to hurt the person's feelings. However, that person should understand that eating their food is not a sign of love and affection. You can just explain that you are on a health and fitness plan (not a diet) and you do not want to have any of what they are offering because it looks so good that you won't be able to control yourself.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a "high risk" time for over eaters and obese people. I think the number of people who only overeat at the Thanksgiving meal is slim to none. Make a commitment to getting healthy, and for a majority of people reading this website, make a commitment to staying healthy. Your health is more important than the temptation to over indulge constantly.