How to Mindfully Navigate the Holidays Without Weight Gain

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are officially here. This year has been so challenging on so many levels and more than ever, people have put their own personal health and weight-loss goals on the back burner. And while you may not be entering the season at your “goal weight” or fitting perfectly into your favorite jeans – it’s okay. Take a deep breath. Rather than panicking and feeling miserable, why don’t you show yourself a little TLC and make “wellness and weight maintenance” your gift to yourself this season. Holidays don’t have to equate to “packing on the pounds”; it is possible to stay in check while still enjoying the the most wonderful time of the year.

Below are seven of our favorite strategies for “keeping it clean” this season so you can kick off the new year looking and feeling healthy, radiant and ready for a new chapter!

EAT BEFORE DRINKING AND CELEBRATING: Meal skipping to “save calories” is not an ideal strategy, as it often leads to overindulging later on. Instead, stick to a moderately-sized breakfast and lunch with plenty of protein and fiber, which will keep you satiated longer. If you enter the holiday meal famished, it's much more difficult to make wise food choices.

CHOOSE PROTEIN: Protein helps you maintain a healthy weight because it keeps you feeling full and energized. Make sure your holiday meal includes some turkey, roasted chicken, grilled seafood or raw bar options - or prepare animal-free alternatives like quinoa, lentils and legumes.

EAT + CHEW SLOWLY: Eating slowly is not always easy, but it pays off in dividends! The faster you eat, the less time your body has to register that it’s full. Take the time to eat slowly and savor the flavor, texture and aroma of every bite. Not only will this help prevent you from overeating, it also makes the overall experience much more satisfying. Tip: put your fork down and chew each bite 20 times before taking the next.

FILL UP ON FIBER: Snacking on veggies, low-sugar fruit and other high-fiber items like legumes can help keep us fuller, longer. Give the crudite platters a second chance with a healthy, compliant dip such as salsa, hummus or guacamole. Ideally, aim for 5-7 servings of vegetables a day to keep your tummy full without adding empty calories.

USE SMALLER PLATES: Using smaller plates can actually make us feel fuller with less food. In fact, studies show that the more food we are served, the more we will eat -- even if we don't even enjoy what we're eating! So, try using an appetizer or salad plate for your main course – you’d be surprised how much it still fits.

DIVIDE YOUR PLATE WISELY: It may be tempting to load up on all your favorite “special occasion” foods during the holiday meal: stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and cornbread. Instead, we suggest filling half your plate with veggies, one quarter with lean protein and the remaining quarter with your starch of choice.

MAKE ROOM FOR HEALTHY FATS: Eliminating or reducing butter and oil is definitely one way to “slash calories”, but let’s remember: not all fats are created equal. Fats are an essential part of our daily diet; they provide energy and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Get plenty of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from avocado, nuts, and olive oil, and added bonus when you combine it with fiber.

While focusing on your personal health and weight-maintenance goals during the holidays may feel daunting at first, following these simple tips can help you right the ship – and possibly even lose a few pounds as well! 

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