Between holiday parties, family feasts, and gift baskets, it is really difficult to avoid temptation over the holidays. It seems like chocolate and cookies and treats are everywhere. There is a tendency to think that a little treat here and there won’t hurt and that you can just shed whatever weight you gain in January. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work that way. New reports indicate that weight gained over the holidays typically takes four months – or more – to lose.
I find that shocking. A cookie binge in December could cause me to pack on three pounds now and those three pounds will still be around when Easter candy is making the rounds?! This information was enough to scare me into doubling down my efforts to avoid temptation around the holidays. Here are a few tips:
- Eat a snack or small meal before holiday parties. I snack on cheese, smoked oysters, smoked salmon, or unsalted nuts before a party. These snacks are high in protein and healthy fats and low in carbs. They also diminish my desire for sweets.
- Increase your water intake. Sometimes, when we think we are hungry, we are really just thirsty. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting 5 minutes before diving into the fudge. See if you are really, truly hungry after those 5 minutes.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. As nice as a glass of wine or champagne is, it makes it difficult to maintain your weight. First, alcohol consists of empty calories that neither nourish your body nor sate your appetite. Second, alcohol impairs your body’s ability to lose weight. Third, consuming too much alcohol makes it more difficult for you to make wise food choices.
- Plan ahead. The holidays are a busy time, but you can still plan ahead to make wise choices. Before the week starts, look at your schedule and determine when you will exercise, when you will cook, and what you will do on the days when healthy eating and exercise pose a challenge. Have a plan for every day and every party so you know ahead of time what you will do.
- Remember what matters. Being with friends and family is the most important thing for many of us during the holiday season. Just being there is what matters. What you are eating doesn’t matter in the sense that eating a lower calorie meal and skipping dessert and wine doesn’t make you any less present. I hit on this realization in the middle of a 5-course meal at a fancy restaurant when my friends were drinking wine and enjoying rich entrees. Instead of feeling sorry for myself that I was eating a shrimp cocktail and drinking sparkling water, I focused on the fact that I was there, in a nice restaurant, surrounded by good friends, sharing time together. Once I got my head around what really mattered and that I was still a part of it, my shrimp cocktail tasted ever so much better!