It’s that time of year. Yeah, yeah, there’s all the presents and the pretty lights and the gatherings with friends and family. (And, of course, the celebration of the birth of Jesus goes without saying.) I’m not talking about those things right now, though. I’m talking about all the food.
If you’re not baking it, your family, friends, and neighbors are. And, they’re sending it to your house! And, of course, there are parties — family Christmas parties, office Christmas parties, Sunday school Christmas parties. And, what do they all have in common? Food.
I’ll be the first to admit, while I’ve done well with my weight loss and I can resist a lot of things, those treats that you only get at Christmas wage an assault on even the strongest willpower (and I never claimed mine was the strongest).
One of the hardest things about Christmas, where eating is concerned, is that it goes on for the entire month of December. At least Thanksgiving is contained to one day, but the high-calorie foods and sweet treats seem to be everywhere you look in December. And, they can be shamefully easy to justify.
So, what’s a body on the road to a healthier lifestyle to do? Here are a few tips:
1. Get it out of the house. I’m planning on having a baking day next week because I enjoy the sweet treats that only seem to be baked this time of year…but, I’m making sure the majority of it does not stay in the house. I’ll be taking it to relatives’ houses, giving it to neighbors, or sending it to work with Brian. And, what about all that stuff that people send me? I’m not above sending it right back out with my baked goods packages. Hey, at least somebody is enjoying it.
2. Stock up on lower fat alternatives. I don’t expect my whole household to give up all their favorites, so I make sure I have lower-fat alternatives for me to enjoy. Fruit, fat-free Jell-O or pudding, and yogurt (frozen or regular) are all healthy ways to satisfy a sweet tooth.
You can also take steps to make your favorites a bit more weight-loss friendly, such as using skim milk instead of regular or egg whites in place of whole eggs. This year, for dinner at my sister’s house, I’ll be replacing my fat-laden broccoli casserole with roasted broccoli and red pepper. Yum!
3. Have a bowl of soup or a glass of water before meals. Drinking a glass of water before and during meals helps you to feel fuller sooner, as does enjoying a bowl of low-calorie, broth-based soup, such as Weight Watchers Vegetable Soup.
4. Share desserts. Fix your husband’s dessert plate for him – then, have a few bites! Or, see if you have another friend or relative who is willing to split desserts with you. The hubby dessert plate thing worked well for me at Thanksgiving. Usually, if I can have a couple of bites of something, I can feel like I’ve indulged without going overboard and my husband is one of those unfairly high-metabolism types.
5. Enjoy in moderation. People get so hung up on this “good food/bad food” thing when, in reality, food is just food. I mean, yes, there are things that you should probably avoid on a pretty regular basis, but you can enjoy anything in moderation.
I’m almost finished reading Believe It, Be It by Biggest Loser winner, Ali Vincent, and I love this quote from her in the book reflecting on the early days of her weight loss journey:
“Back then, I didn’t understand the thought process of healthy people, that you can eat the foods you want as long as you do so in moderation…I didn’t know anything about budgeting calories.” [emphasis mine]
Which leads me to my next tip…
6. Plan for it. If you know you’re going to be facing a high calorie supper, eat a lighter breakfast and lunch, and make sure to include some activity in your day. You can budget calories just like you budget money. Figure out how many calories you can eat in a day (and how many you need to burn) to reach your weight loss goals, then, plan your meals accordingly.
While it’s probably best, generally speaking, to spread your calories evenly throughout the day, you don’t always have to do that. Just like you sometimes have a big bill coming up that may require you to borrow money from other categories, sometimes you may need to borrow calories from another meal.
Similarly, you may need to borrow calories from another day. For example, if my calorie budget is usually 1500 per day, but I know I’m going to have a really high-calorie day one day this week, I might try to keep my calories at 1200-1300 the day before and/or the day after, since my ultimate goal is to have a calorie deficit of 3500 for each pound I want to lose each week.
7. Be flexible on how you consume your calories. For the most part, I try to make sure the majority of my calories come from healthy, low-fat foods, but sometimes I allow myself to enjoy my favorites first. Both last Thanksgiving and this Thanksgiving, for example, I choose to save my calories for my favorite foods, even when a lower-calorie (but not favorite) food was available. I don’t do this often, but it has served me well every Thanksgiving that I’ve employed this technique.
8. Forgive yourself and move on. Let’s face it, even the most self-disciplined person over-indulges from time to time. The only time that becomes a mistake that you can’t overcome is when you don’t chalk it up to a mistake and move on. There’s no sense letting a bad day – or even a bad week – derail your entire weight-loss plan.
Remember, nobody ever failed from continuing to make the right choices. We only fail when we quit. A sports team doesn’t chalk the whole season up as a wash with one loss. They keep coming back week after week. Look how many teams have come from behind and won a championship because they didn’t quit trying. You only fail if you take yourself out of the game.
What tips have you discovered to help you manage your weight during the Christmas holidays?