Even those of us who are generally good at controlling consumption of unhealthy foods often find it hard to resist overindulging during the holiday season, but there are several little hacks you can use to help avoid gaining weight at this time.
Shoshana Bennett, PhD, who is a clinical psychologist in California, says that gaining weight isn’t inevitable over the holidays, and can be stopped with a little bit of planning and mindfulness.
1. Eat before the party
Bennett says you should never go hungry to a party, and advises eating a small, protein rich meal before leaving home. Protein is good at balancing blood sugar, so with it in your system you’ll find it easier to avoid the dessert table.
2. Drink plenty of water
People often think they are hungry when in reality, they’re thirsty instead. Bennett says that drinking a full glass of water with the meal you have before leaving home will increase your chances of abstaining from the junk food.
3. Make conscious choices
When you are faced with a table full of goodies, try to stay mindful of what you choose to eat. Bennett says that if you eat something slowly and deliberately, while savoring every bite, you’ll enjoy it far more than if you eat without thinking about it, and you’re likely to eat less.
4. Eat, then have a break
Resting for a mere few minutes in between servings can help prevent overeating. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to signal the stomach that it’s full, so taking a little time out can make all the difference.
5. Enjoy the tastes in small amounts
Don’t rush your foods. Eat a little of your chosen foods and really enjoy the flavors and textures. A smaller amount of food can be enjoyed better than a large amount of the same food, and it leaves you with more room to taste other goodies, too.
6. Don’t try to lose weight over the holidays – maintain it instead
It’s doubly hard to start a diet at this time of year, and you may be better trying to simply maintain your weight instead of losing it.
Madison Johnson, MA, from North Carolina State University says that January is a more practical time to start a weight-loss program instead.
7. If you fail, forget it and move on
If you do give in to temptation, don’t waste time beating yourself up about it, says Stephanie McKercher, registered dietician and food blogger at Grateful Grazer.
“Instead of calling yourself a failure, try to reframe your thoughts to consider what you learned and how you can set yourself up for healthier choices in the future,” she says. “Feeling guilty over food is never the answer.”