Basically, sitting around the Christmas table with family and friends is about one thing and that is being thankful. Thankful for having family and friends to share good times with, surrounded by scrumptious food, both healthy and not so healthy but definitely some of the most delicious. The downside is that they can bring some anxiety about dreaded holiday weight gain.
Anxiety and weight gain
Don't let anxiety interfere with your peace of mind for enjoying the holiday season to the fullest. To ensure peace of mind and stop any self sabotage for personal enjoyment, you need to form logical decisions that work in synergy with your long term weight loss goal.
By making these decisions ahead of time allows you to avoid any uncertainty, self-doubt, shame and guilt that is often associated with festive season indulgence. By adhering to your decisions you can make the most out of any dinner party/festive cheer and accomplish the first priority, which is simply being happy, along with guilt free enjoyment!
So what are your choices?
A) No Deviation From A Strict Diet Plan
B) Controlled Deviation From A Strict Diet Plan
C) Enjoyment of Maintenance
Let's talk break it all down...
No Deviation From A Strict Diet Plan.
This means total denial. No stuffing, no turkey, and no plum pudding. By sticking to your diet, you bypass any worries of gaining unwanted weight, but this comes at a miserable cost. You pay by getting just about zero food enjoyment but plenty of misery guts. You will be reducing the fun you have with family and friends, so it definitely comes at a price. This choice is a no-brainer.
Controlled Deviation From A Strict Diet Plan
This one may sound like a winner. You get to eat some tasty holiday foods and stay on track for your goals. The big problem with this approach is that while some people may be able to adhere to this, for most of us this it may be a slightly better option than option A but I am still not convinced this is the way to to to.
Enjoyment of Maintenance Diet Plan
This is my personal favourite. The goal is to keep your weight relatively about the same through the holidays or gain just a tiny bit, while eating ALL of your favorite holiday meals and not holding back or deprived.
Here a few key tips to help you on your way.
Tips for Enjoying Maintenance through the Any Family Gathering, Not just Christmas!
Do not skip meals. With all the enjoyment of opening presents under the tree you may forego breakfast and spend your morning nibbling as you prepare the meal. Make sure to have yourself a good breakfast so you will not be tempted to nibble, as well as keeping your energy levels at their best.
Do not skimp on portion sizes, while making sure to not overload your plate either. Don't hold back on your favorite foods simply enjoy yourself. You should aim to eat the holiday meals with the specific goal of enjoying them.
Ensure your meals are higher in lean protein and veggies and a bit lower in carbs and fats. That's it. This lowers your meal calories with the added benefit of boosting anti-hunger properties, and feeling satisfied.
Be sure to go for a walk after indulging. This is great for peace of mind, chatting with fellow walkers and taking in fresh air. When I was living in Ireland we would rug up warm and go for a walk as the sun was setting around 4pm, then back in side for more treats and warming drinks. Here is Australia it will be 35C (yep 95F) so I may be opting for an early morning walk to start my day. Again, being prepared is the way to go!
So what's the best advice so far? Eat all the holiday meals you have planned (planned being the operative word here) and don't hold back. Be mindful of plenty of vegetables on your plate, perhaps start with a green smoothie to really get the metabolism moving and prepared for the day ahead.
After Christmas Tips:
Water weight always comes with holiday meals.
If you feel the need to weigh yourself after Christmas, just remember that 2-3.5kg (5-8lb ) gain in weight is not uncommon and almost all that weight is water! So if you're up in weight a bit a day or two after indulging, don't be alarmed! With a return to your usual eating plan, water weight leaves as quickly as it came.
What if you do gain fat over the holiday?
Actual fat gain over a short period of time is not as easy as you may think. It takes a lot of overeating over two to three weeks, which really is not what usually happens. If you find yourself overindulging do not be ready to beat yourself up and admit defeat just yet.
Actual weight gain it not easy if you eat normally outside of all traditional, over indulgent gatherings and perform some form of exercise, whether it be running, walking, water aerobics. Keeping up with your usual fitness with a few tweaks is highly recommended at this time.
Reality check! Most people who gain a lot of weight over the holidays are often turning most every meal into a festive meal. You can keep this in check by having planned regular meals and maintaining exercise of sorts. Cheat meals are usually integrated into long term eating plans, but the problem arises when you create a "cheat meal" for every meal from Christmas Eve to New Years Day! Even worse, it that once you start eating like this, holiday meals lose their "special" appeal and you might actually enjoy them less than if the rest of your diet was normal. But, if you don't make every meal a cheat meal and keep water weight in mind, the chances of you gaining pounds and pounds using the suggestions I advise in this article are very, very slim, so don't sweat it!
I believe the holidays are for eating and having fun. So choose your plan (A, B OR C), and do your best. Leave the worrying, second guessing and guilt for someone else who has not read my post!
And if you want to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can start those in January no problem, and I'll help you every step of the way.
Julie Dargan is a Nurse, Naturopath BHSc and has worked in the wellness industry for over 30 years. Julie's FREE 5 Day Kickstart Program is excellent to get you on the right track to help you lose weight and find hormonal harmony in the menopause. Sign up now and enjoy the free program in 2016. Julie also shares her 7 Day Weight Loss Plan for Women In The Menopause & Beyond. Julie recently released an exciting eBook that explores why diets do not work and how to get you in the correct mind frame to lose weight. Julie also has a Facebook page for women over 50 and looking for solutions to halt weight gain in the menopause.