Dodge That Holiday Weight Gain
All Holiday, No Weight Gain - We're Here For It!
Okay ladies, it is literally that time of the year – the most wonderful time of the year! - and not just that time for the early celebratin’, holiday obsessed like myself. ;) Thanksgiving is here! And that means food. Lots and lots of delicious, delectable, once a year, throw down meals, and aunties should-be-famous cakes and pies worth of food.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anybody who keeps the holiday food indulgence brought on by Thanksgiving only on Thanksgiving. Christmas, New Years, party after party dabbled in the mix, and let’s not get into all the winter desserts and goodies that are everywhere we turn (No, I do NOT want a 2nd cookie free)! The struggle can be real out there!
So, how are we going to dodge packing on those typical American holiday pounds, and still eat our way through our favs of the season (because, ba-bayyy, I am not skipping my Momma’s macaroni and cheese for NO*insert clap* BO*insert clap*DY!)? Fear not.
Let me grab my Registered Dietitian hat while you get ready to dig in on these easy tips to healthily enjoy the holidays:
1. Think about it
Ever heard of Mindful Eating? So, being mindful is about being in the moment, being in tune with yourself, and with what is happening right now around you. It can sound kooky, but think about it – have you ever driven home with something on your mind and suddenly realize you have magically made it from point A to point B without being aware of the drive? You were driving, making all the stops and goes and turns along the way, but you weren’t mentally in the moment. It can be the same with food. We eat distracted, watching TV, talking, or just zoned out. It is all hand to mouth, and before we know it that bag is empty, plate is cleaned. And often, we don’t feel satisfied so we go for more. That more is where we land in trouble and overindulge (only to feel stuffed and regretful later, le sigh).
Mindful eating asks you to slow down. Pay attention to your food. Look at it, smell it, feel its textures in your mouth. Chew slowly and thoroughly. Taste the variances in flavors. Think about how you feel while you are eating. You can find practice activities here.
At your Thanksgiving meal, and all other meals this holiday, try your best to include some mindful eating practices. Slow down by looking at your food and appreciating where it came from, who prepared it, and the nourishment it will give your body. Put your fork down in between bites, sip on water before and during your meal, and focus attention to enjoying a meal with your family/friends. Slowing down and paying attention to your food will increase your meal satisfaction and help you to eat less.
2. Gem that Plate
What’s a Gem Plate you ask? A beautiful, balanced plate that this registered dietitian will be proud of you for making. The star of the Gem Plate is vegetables. If you don’t like vegetables, girl, message me. There’s gotta be something we can find that you can deal with. We’ll have a post at a later time about why we need ‘em and it isn’t just because growing up, momma said! But on these occasions, the high fiber veggies can help you to feel full and satisfied for longer.
Most of your plate (about half) should have crunchy, watery vegetables (i.e.– not potatoes, corn, beans, yams – I know I’m breakin’ hearts). The starchier vegetables have a lot more calories and can raise blood sugar too high if we have too many, especially when paired with other starchy items like bread or rice. Collards, cabbage, broccoli and green beans are great low starch veggies to include on your Gem Plate.
Split the other half of your plate with protein and your fav starchy holiday foods. White meat turkey with the skin removed is a better protein choice versus the dark meat or ham as it is lower in fat and salt. Try to grab small portions of your favs like macaroni and cheese, candied yams, and dressing. Have a small sampling of what you truly want (remember to think mindfully about what you have a taste for!), and try not to over heap your plate. Gem Plate checklist: 50% nourishing low starch veggies, 25% tasty lean protein, and 25% starchy goodness.
3. Girl, Go Walk (shopping counts in my book if you do it long enough)
Ya gottaaaaa exercise! No ways around it. We normally eat more this time of year, and more of foods that are energy dense (high calorie) at that. To try and offset it, make sure to maintain, and if possible, increase your exercise regimen. Dust off an exercise video, go on YouTube and do one of their millions of free exercise routines (just search for whatever your heart desires, from walking 5 miles to Belly Dancing, they got it!), or just head out the door and walk. Wear your fitness tracker or download a step counting app on your smartphone to keep track of your activity.
4. Drink Smart
We are swamped with 3,476,789 extra calories worth of temptation daily over the holidays (okay, yea, exaggeration much?, but still). Avoid topping off holiday excesses with mocha-choca-latta-yayas. Some mixed hot beverages can have as much as 600 calories and 68 grams of sugar (that’s like a double cheeseburger and a milkshake)! Stick with regular coffees and add cinnamon and nutmeg. Making your drink with almond milk instead of regular milk can also save calories and sugar. Remember that alcohol adds calories and decreases will - I don’t know about you but it surely makes me want to eat more! So be mindful to have 1 or 2 drinks at most. Mix with low sugar mixers or choose light beer. Sip slowly and enjoy your beverage.
P.S. Now isn’t the time to skimp on water! Make sure to get in at least 4 bottles (10 glasses) to help with digestion and flushing waste from your system!
5. Enjoy & Relax
Keep your stress levels low (stress can increase blood sugar & weight gain!). Find activities you love, call up friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. And, if you over do it, shake it off. Make a healthy choice at your next meal or snack, get out and be active. Most of all, enjoy your holiday and time with your family and friends.
Happy Holidays Gems! Keep Shining
What's your favorite thing about the Holidays? Do you have any healthy tips to share or need ideas for a holiday hurdle? Leave a comment below!
Marie Erobu, MS, RDN, LD