Updated, 20 November 2017
I can’t believe how fast the end of year Holidays roll upon us. And for some it can be a stressful time. Especially if you’ve had a hard time managing body weight.
I have an 8-Tip Meal Plan strategy that may help you avoid weight gain during the Holidays. Yet allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
This 8-tip strategy has helped past clients stay on weight loss target during the Holiday season. Admittedly – most didn’t lose weight during this time of year… however they didn’t gain any either while applying the tips.
Back History on the 8-Tip Holiday Meal Strategy – I was asked during a client consult if I could create a work around food strategy. One that allowed someone to eat favorite Holiday foods without derailing a weight loss goal.
Of course I told the client there’s always a risk of falling back into a bad food habit when overeating hyper-palatable foods. But for this individual it was worth the risk to modify the current weight loss plan to enjoy Holiday foods with family; and without fear of weight gain. Prior to this request avoidance of all Holiday and family event meals was the norm for this person.
After the client applied most of the tips throughout the Holiday season – there was no weight gain and weight loss target was sustained during the New Year.
For some, it’s almost as if we must harden the body for the rigors of war while trying to lose a little weight. The smells and tastes are enough to drive anyone crazy and want to go on a food binge. And without a good “hold the weight gain line” strategy, Holiday and special events foods often overwhelm our senses and will power to stay a healthy weight loss course.
The worse part of consuming too many calories as we age – our body’s metabolisms become less efficient at processing the excess. Instead the metabolism gets very efficient at storing body fat weight. It is also true after a Holiday food binge, there is a tendency for some to continue the same eating pattern throughout the New Year. With that said, these tips can help correct an unhealthy eating pattern after the Holidays should it continue.
I also understand some of you have had tremendous success at melting the pounds away last year as you stuck to your new year’s weight loss resolution.
Congratulation to you!
For those struggling to hold the weight loss line during the Holidays, don’t throw in the towel just yet! I’m sharing the same client tips that worked for some… I know can work for you. And quite possibly habit forming enough to incorporate into a current weight loss program.
However remain mindful – these tips alone may not be enough to meet your ultimate weight loss goal. Especially if you are in poor health with a chronic condition; have a substance abuse problem, or obsessive compulsive eating disorder, or grossly obese, etc. In any case, request a primary care referral to see a medical specialist for relative treatment. Especially if body weight now presents a chronic health condition.
I’m no different than anyone else during the Holidays. “I’m tempted to eat more than I need.”
However if aware of a bad food choice, or habit known to cause weight gain… and having a hold the line food habit strategy – keeping the weight off during the Holidays is very doable.
These behaviors and food habit modifications in practice are also useful when the metabolism slows down in the evening and progressively every year after the age of 25.
It is well known as we age, the body doesn’t require the excess calories it once did during the developmental and active adult years. Regardless, this does not mean you have to give up all your favorite foods, even if some of them are considered unhealthy.
I would be remiss in mentioning – there’s some foods we’d all be better off leaving off the plate – E.g., highly processed foods and drink with too many preservatives, salt and sweeteners in them.
Since everyone’s metabolism is different due to age, sex, medical condition, genetics, environment, etc., I can’t predict, or provide a “one fix solution to hold the body weight line strategy” that’ll work for everyone. Especially when I know the programmed tips below were designed for a few client types that wanted to indulge once and a while without weight gain guilt.
However I believe these tips are worth sharing because some of them will be useful for anyone. Especially if your concerned about gaining weight during the Holiday season.
Some have asked, “Can this 8-Tip Holiday Meal Strategy work long term?” Yes. “I believe certain habits and behavioral changes as listed below could work long term for a majority that apply them consistently throughout the year.”
For those of you that are disciplined enough to pace yourself and turn off the feeding frenzy without a Holiday Meal Strategy… My hats off to you! You have will power most of us can only dream about.
For those that need some help in this area – Try the 8-Tip Holiday Meal Strategy below. It can allow you to eat your favorite foods and keep weight off during the festive times of year.
Tip#1 – Never! Go to your mother, or mother-in-laws, or Grandmothers home for Holiday meals hungry!
The habit of starving ourselves in preparedness for the Holiday meal seems to be ingrained within the American spirit and culture. I know my family like so many others during the Holidays have repeated this ritual. It’s no wonder we can’t stop ourselves. Before you know it, we’re all lying around like beached whales on a lido deck with “Hot… Hot… Hot,” playing in the background. So, it stands to reason, you must eat something not less than 2-3 hours before you go over for a Holiday meal.
The way our digestion system processes food after a meal, the stomach will not be empty for the next 4-6 hours depending on metabolism. This digestive function varies with each one of us.
I don’t suggest being selective when choosing Holiday foods. Just serve the foods you want to eat and don’t over load your plate. The point is… when you get to the table you won’t be as hungry or want to eat as much.
Tip#2 – Never, I repeat Never! Drink alcohol prior to going into the meal.
You don’t drink and drive do you? Well, what makes you think you could drink and consume without injury to your body prior to sitting down for for the meal? Although I’m being facetious, I’m also serious in the way I want to make my point. Alcohol is a depressant, pain killer, relaxant, taste intensifier and social inhibitor all wrapped into one. This concept is easy to understand: eat and drink like Vikings… equates to inhibited calorie gain!
Limit yourself to two 8oz glasses of cheer after the meal (your choice). Remember alcohol also contains calories that add up fast.
Tip#3 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day prior, during and after Holiday meals.
Water is a natural solvent, absorbs well in the stomach and intestinal lining assisting the body’s digestive system to process food intake more efficiently and that means less calories stored as fat. Plus, water will make you feel full faster and has no calories.
Tip#4 – Do not stay at the dinner table after eating.
This is where most of us fall prey to over eating indulgences. It is very difficult to resist picking at the Holiday turkey, cranberry, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pies, olives, sipping on Champaign… “Ohhhhhh the dressing and gravy… Give me a break! I’m dying here. I think I just made myself hungry.”
See how hard this is and I’m supposed to be giving you advice. Look, I never said I wasn’t human, or this would be easy. More so the reason to have a pre-meal battle plan strategy that moves one away from the table and out of the kitchen after the meal.
Tip 5# – Take your first serving. After you consume it wait 20 minutes before you think about seconds.
Take at least 20 minutes and enjoy the meal. “Seconds is not recommended.” This will be the hardest part of the meal plan. It takes your brain approximately this much time to register whether you’ve eaten enough or not.
Focus on satiety not a feeling of fullness. But if you do decide you can’t resist a second helping focus on a favorite serving that doesn’t take up more than 1/2 the plate diameter. And no piling food on the plate. Focus on 50% less than what you’d normally put on the plate for 1st’s and 2nd’s.
Tip#6 – Never eat dessert after you’ve eaten the main meal.
This will only add insult to injury. Your body simply is not designed to handle this mass blood sugar spike without consequence, especially if you’ve achieved satiety after eating the meal. Wait 1 hour to see how your body processes the feeling of what you ate. If you experience a feeling of satiety and not overfull after a period of time then do enjoy some dessert. While eating dessert take your time to gage feeling of gut comfort. But if you begin to experience the feeling of near full, back off and leave the remaining portion of dessert.
Tip#7 – Never, I repeat never! Take home left over’s.
This can set you up for failure early on into the New Year. Simply by continuing to eat these foods addicts some to them with similar eating patterns for months. In this case another 10 pounds can be added quickly.
Tip#8 – Start a daily exercise program during the Holidays if you don’t already exercise.
This is very important! When you consume excess calories on “any day,” you will need to mobilize the body to remove the unspent fat fuel. I highly recommend at a minimum… a daily walking program, or other aerobic activity at least 30 minutes a day.
You’ve now learned how it’s possible to embrace Holiday foods that don’t compromise the meal experience and add guilt.
And best of all, when applied with conviction you won’t gain any weight. You may even surprise yourself and lose a little.
Have a wonderful Holiday season with family and friends and don’t let your food fears and weight loss program prevent a great meal experience with loved ones.
Plan, prepare and participate in the spirit of the Holidays without fear of being around the foods you love to eat.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2017 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.