Updated, 27 November 2019, by Marc Woodard
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 losing weight. For those of you who have had a tough time staying on weight loss course – I have an 8-Tip Holiday food strategy plan that may help you avoid weight gain, yet allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
The 8-Tip No Weight Gain Holiday Strategy has helped past clients stay on weight loss target not only through the festive season but throughout the year. Admittedly – most of my clients didn’t lose weight during this time of year, but most didn’t gain weight either while applying this strategy.
MirrorAthlete 8-Tip Holiday Meal Strategy
I was asked during a client consult if I could create a work around food strategy during the Holidays. One that allowed someone to eat favorite Holiday foods without derailing a weight loss goal.
I explained to the client there’s always a risk of falling off the wagon when overeating hyper-palatable [fatty, salty, sugary] foods – especially during the Holiday season. But for those looking to spend quality time with family, or attend a special event where food is the heroâ€¦ If weight gain risk can be minimized through applying a food habit change plan… infrequent food indulgences can be enjoyed without gaining weight or feeling the guilt. With a properly programmed food plan, I find most people will stay on weight loss target. Admittedly, most clients I programmed didn’t gain weight during this time of year, but they didn’t lose weight either. Its basically a plan that puts weight loss on hold… then can be resumed thereafter.
Some have asked, “Can this 8-Tip No Weight Gain Holiday Food Strategy work long term?” Yes. “I believe certain habits and behavioral changes with an intermittent break in dietary routines will not be a weight loss goal deal breaker.”
Follow the tips below and you can have your cake and eat it to.
Tip#1 – Never! Go to your mother, or mother-in-laws, or Grandmothers home for Holiday meals hungry!
The habit of starving ourselves prior to the Holiday meal seems to be ingrained within the American 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 from overeating. 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 the stomach will not be empty for the next 4-6 hours depending on metabolism. This digestive function varies within each one of us.
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? What makes you think you could drink without impact on will power to moderate calorie consumption? Especially while sitting in front of all those incredible dishes? 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 calorie gain and falling of the wagon!
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 to assist the body’s digestive system and process food intake more efficiently while storing fewer calories as body 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 a second serving.
Take at least 20 minutes and enjoy the meal. Second servings is not recommended. This will be the hardest part of the 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. For many overweight people, the body simply can’t handle an additional blood sugar spike without storing more calories as body fat weight. Decadent foods are a villain to weight watchers and reason many fall off the wagon. Wait 1 hour to see how your body processes the feeling of what you already consumed. If you experience a feeling of satiety and not overfull after a period of time then do enjoy some a little dessert. But if you experience the feeling of near full anytime – back off and leave the remaining portion of dessert.
Tip#7 – Never, I repeat never! Take home left overs.
This can set you up for failure early on into the New Year. By continuing to eat these foods in succession leads to similar eating patterns days and months after the event. In this case total body weight can easily increase 8-10lbs within a 30 day period. Especially when one does not aerobically exercise daily.
Tip#8 â€“ Perform Aerobic Exercise daily during the Holidays.
Low-impact aerobic exercise is very important to perform . Especially throughout the Holidays. 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 low-impact aerobic activity, working up to at least 30 – 45 minutes daily. It is low impact aerobic exercise that stimulates the fat burning body furnace. Whereas body fat fuel is preferred by the body’s metabolism when performing low-impact aerobic exercise.
You’ve now learned how it’s possible to embrace Holiday and annual event foods that don’t add weight watcher pounds or guilt. And best of all, when applied correctly you won’t gain any weight. You may even surprise yourself and lose a little during those festive occasions.
Have a wonderful Holiday season and New Year with family and friends and don’t let your food fears and weight loss program prevent a great social and meal experience with loved ones.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2017-19 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.