Ways to Keep Your Weight in Check During the Holidays

English: Fall foliage in Southern California

Happy Day After Halloween Everyone!  No doubt, you did it.  Despite every effort to not eat loads of candy, you likely had a few in the office, during or after trick-or-treating, and/or this morning.  If not, good for you.  If you’re reading this with Halloween candy in your hand, put the candy down!!!!  Drop it!  Many of you are likely nursing your candy (or alcohol-related) hangovers and feeling a bit down on yourselves for your little infractions of late.  Stop it!  Hopefully you enjoyed yourself, but guilt will not undo the damage.  Having a plan to clean up your eating will.

As we enter the holiday season, we enter the eating season.  This is where the leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder and colder, people pile on the layers, and they want to eat more and work out less.  Add the holidays into the mix, and you have a full-blown excuse to pile on the pounds.  (Fortunately or unfortunately for me, I live in Southern California, where it never gets that cold and we get some warm weather in the middle of winter.  So, I don’t really have an excuse to put on any weight.  But for some reason, the colder weather always does something to me. :))  But, nevertheless, the holiday season usually means that we have excuses to eat more because of all the holiday parties and celebrations and we have to plan ahead to make sure that we don’t usher the new year in with extra pounds on our bodies.

So, what can we do now?  Come up with an eating and fitness plan that you can follow now so you can look great in your holiday dresses and suits, enjoy the food at these parties, and not worry about putting on extra weight.  So, what do you do?

1) The first thing is not to use the word “diet”.  Strike it from your vocabulary because it’s a surefire way to sabotage yourself.  Dieting during the holidays is especially challenging because of the extra treats that come along with each holiday from cookies to cakes to pies and all of the other fun stuff.  Add in the different celebrations and events that require planning and shopping and you have a whole lot of extra stress to deal with. This usually leads to people “cheating” more and feeling guilty about their cheats that they tend to lose the enjoyment and still end up gaining weight.  So, ditch that word.  It won’t do you any good.  Just focus on eating clean and healthy as much as you can.

2) My biggest tip is to choose some delicious and healthy recipes that you’re going to enjoy eating for the next few months and cook/prepare your own food as much as you can.  Treat yourself to a new cookbook or two to make cooking more fun and exciting (I’m loving Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy GowerWell Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan, and Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook by Sarah Fragoso) and schedule in some time to prepare your food.  I cook 2-3 times a week and I only dine out at restaurants 1-2 times each week.  (And when I eat out, I truly savor it and don’t hold back.  Wine?  Yes please!  Dessert?  Absolutely!!!)  How do I do this?  I make big batches of each recipe so that I can eat for days off of what I’ve made.  If you find recipes you love, you’ll eat yourself thin without missing a thing.  Then, you don’t feel guilty eating out because you’ve done so many good things throughout the week.

3) Eat what’s in season. The fall and winter seasons offer so many seasonal vegetables to incorporate into your meal plan.  Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, artichokes, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.  There are so many easy and quick ways to prepare these that you’ll enjoy eating your veggies AND your weight loss.  I’ll be posting a ton of great recipes in the next few days.

4) Eat those veggies first.  If you fill up on veggies before everything else, the fiber in those veggies will prevent you from eating a lot of other things.  You’ll end up eating less and still being full.

5) Try to lessen the amount of dairy you eat.  If must have cheese, then do it, but eat sparingly.  The same goes for everything else.  But, if you can cut out cheese, ice cream, and milk from your daily lifestyle, you’ll save yourself a lot of calories and inflammation.  Save your splurges for where it really counts.

6) Cut down on your sugar intake where you can.  The one thing about sugar is that it is addicting.  The more you have, the more you want.  Throw away that Halloween candy, if you can, or donate it.  If you cut down on your sugar intake right now, you’ll be able to enjoy a little of it at each of the events you have coming up.

7) Eat regularly.  If you eat every 3-4 hours and have protein at each meal, you’re much less likely to want to snack on the bad stuff.  If you’re going to a party, eat something an hour or two before you get there.  Heading to a party with a growling tummy is a surefire way of making some bad decisions.  You’re more likely to overeat and eat things that you’ll regret.  By eating a snack like an apple with almond butter prior to a party, you’ll be able to enjoy the party and not scarf down the first things you see.  Also, don’t “save up” your calories during the day by not eating.  You’ll end up screwing up your metabolism by doing this, first of all, and second, this will backfire because you’ll end up eating more in the end.

8) Chew your food thoroughly.  I tend to eat more meat during the fall and winter.  The cold makes me want to eat stews, soups, and warmer foods, which often involve meat.  So, it’s even more important to be mindful of your eating and chew each bite thoroughly.  This will help you eat less and improve your digestion.  Also, being mindful of chewing your food is important at parties since we often shove appetizers and the rest of our meals in our mouths and barely chew them so we can continue talking.

9) Move it!!!  During the fall and winter seasons, it’s darker and colder out causing many people to not want to work out as much.  This is the time where it gets easy to “fall” out of your routine.  So, to get yourself on track before it’s too late, come up with a fitness plan.  Whether it’s finding classes you enjoy at your gym, buying a new exercise DVD to get you motivated, or going for a jog in the brisk air, just coming up with an excuse-proof plan is crucial to staying healthy through the next few months.  Find a way to sweat and move each day so that you can help yourself stay on track.  Do you have any exercise DVDs you love?  If so, please comment and make suggestions.  I’m always looking for fun new things to try.

10) Try to get as much sleep as you can.  The holidays can be fun, but they can also be stressful.  You can’t store or bank sleep, but the more you get on a regular basis, the better you’ll be able to cope with the stress and the less you’ll want to eat badly.

Happy Fall Everyone!

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