Weight Watchers Get Healthy Freestyle Journey – Week 9
Surviving Holidays While Dieting
It’s time once again to reflect on the past week. Recently, we looked at how to stay motivated, smart use of free foods, some tactics for dining out, and the benefits of a 5% weight loss. Each week I’ve gained new skills to be successful on this journey. Since I am on this journey with my family, we each have our hurdles to overcome. One that many of us are facing is that many holidays focus around food. From gingerbread men, hoppin’ John, and pumpkin pie to boxes of chocolate, hot dogs on the grill, and marshmallow peeps we are tempted year round. We tell ourselves that we get these treats just once a year. The problem is that there are dozens of these items and by the end of the year we have consumed thousands of extra calories and hundreds of grams of extra fat and sugar.
December isn’t the only time of year that we look forward to gathering with family and friends to rejoice, celebrate, and eat. There’s New Years, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, that we celebrate before Christmas arrives. And don’t forget all the food surrounding Super Bowl Sunday, March Madness, Birthdays, Picnics, and Summer BBQs. Every event may seem like an excuse to splurge, but the consequence just might be the worst kind of post-party affliction – a food hangover and extra pounds. So how do we survive all these holidays and events?
Tips For Surviving Holidays While Dieting
The holidays do NOT have to mean binges, extra pounds, and hangovers.
If you are like me and millions of others, the year started off with a resolution to lose weight, to exercise more, or something along the lines of getting healthier this year. Having just made it through the December holidays we thought that it would be a piece a cake (easy). The truth is that unless you have superhuman willpower, there are holidays and events all throughout the year that often will tempt you. All these holidays, with their focus on food, can be a challenge and learning how to survive them can be difficult. To help you and me not only survive but thrive I’ve compiled some tips for surviving holidays that Marcus and I have been using, plus some new ones that I’ve discovered recently.
Don’t Deprive Yourself – Saving up calories all week by doing without will leave your feeling deprived. Instead, eat mindfully the week before the holiday or event so you won’t feel deprived and go on a binge.
Exercise – Exercising in the morning can help ensure better behavior all day long. So be sure to make time to do some before joining in the festivities of the day. Exercise is the only thing besides eating breakfast that has been correlated with long-term weight loss. You don’t have to be hanging off the side of a cliff by carabiners or deep sea diving with sharks, just get out and enjoy the outdoors.
Enjoy Your Favorites – Peruse the buffet before you load your plate to avoid foods you really don’t want. Pick only the ones that you really want and will receive the most enjoyment out of having. Enjoy them in moderation and you will be able to stave off the cravings that can get you in trouble later.
Choose Wisely – Research suggests that you’ll consume the largest quantity of the foods you eat first, so set yourself up for success by starting with something low-calorie. So choose your first buffet picks wisely.
Downsize Your Plate – Downsizing your plate can trick your brain into thinking you are eating more. At the party buffet, use the smaller dessert plate. Grab a salad plate instead of the larger dinner plate when you head to the potluck buffet and you could wind up eating 40 percent less.
Don’t Starve Yourself – Just like you shouldn’t skip lunch before a big night out at a restaurant you should not arrive starving for big holiday meals and events. By doing so you are setting yourself up to binge on all the high-calorie choices.
Say Yes To Dessert – Practice the three-bite rule to keep your sweet tooth in check. Take one bite to say “hello,” one bite to savor the flavor, and one bite to say “goodbye.” With each bite, slowly chew the food so you can really taste it. After your third bite, put down your fork and be okay with walking away. This little surviving holidays trick allows you to taste your favorite foods without those decadent delights sabotaging your diet and health goals.
Think Small – By taking smaller sips and bites and you can trick your brain into eating 30 percent fewer calories. Studies show that when you take smaller bites and chew your food longer, thus eating slower, your brain thinks you’ve eaten more. So nibble, don’t gobble!
Out of Sight, Out of Mind – It’s the leftovers that do you in. If you are the host, send guests home with them. They will enjoy them and you won’t be tempted.
Get Some Willpower – According to research, this little surviving holidays tip works. Place the thumb and fingers of one hand on your forehand, a half inch apart. Then, tap each finger one at a time, once per second, telling yourself, “Hold on.” Do this for 30 seconds and the craving will disappear. Sounds crazy, but it works. Want to crush a craving in public, but feel a bit silly trying the forehead technique? Just pick something to focus on that’ll keep your eyes busy and try to engage in what you’re seeing.
Reduce Stress – Ready to head to the buffet? Take deep breaths before you grab your plate. Close your eyes and focus on you reaching your goal for 30 seconds, chances are you won’t want to fill your plate. Research suggests that women who practice stress reduction techniques are able to prevent weight gain.
Eat Your Water – Instead of trying to down eight glasses of water, have a green salad with a few slices of avocado or some radish, celery, tomato, and cucumber. Cauliflower and bell pepper are also great items to pick off the veggie tray. All these water-rich foods will help keep you hydrated so that everything moves through your system faster. Plus, having a salad before diving into the main entree will help keep your caloric intake in check. Check out this list of high-water-content foods to help you with this surviving holidays tip.
Bring An Emergency Pack – Having an emergency life pack is a great backup. Some great items to have in it are nuts, single-serve packets of Hummus, sardines, protein bars, a small bag of carrots, or anything else healthy that will stave off hunger and help you avoid a food hangover.
Beware Of Sugar Pushers – Every family has one, they give you a guilt trip about not trying their special dish, they tell you to live a little, or in my case call me the “food police”. If you must sample take just a bite or two, this will usually appease them. Just be careful that a few bites don’t become two pieces.
Get Plenty of Potassium – Found in foods such as bananas, papayas, kiwis, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe, this nutrient counterbalances sodium, so you retain less water. Eating foods with potassium is also important in controlling blood pressure because potassium blunts the effects of sodium. The more potassium we eat, the more sodium we pass out of the body through urine. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much you should be getting.
Watch Your Alcohol – Alcohol is a brain toxin and slows down brain metabolism. In addition to depleting mood-boosting B vitamins, it makes you uninhibited around food. If you must drink at parties, avoid eggnog and other sugary alcoholic drinks.
Sleep – When we don’t get enough sleep, we eat about an extra 300 calories and tended to choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods. When women lack sleep we often feel less-full after eating, while men tend to have an increased appetite. Surviving Holidays Sleep Tip – Take a little “holiday” two hours before bed. Create a sleep ritual, a special routine of little things you do, before bed to help get your system physically and psychologically ready for a deep healing sleep. By getting your ZZZs, you’ll save calories and make healthier choices.
Stay Focused – Concentrate on your food while you’re eating it. Focus on chewing each bite well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of it. Research shows that mealtime multitasking, whether at home or at a party, can make you pop mindless calories into your mouth.
If you are looking to get healthy and stay healthy, I encourage you to join a support group. Even with an arsenal of smart tactics, getting past the plethora of food temptations can be a challenge. Don’t expect to be perfect around the holidays. What surviving holidays tip would you add to my list? Share yours below or on my Facebook fan page.
When you’re in a peaceful relationship with food, you can enjoy all the great options at holiday get-togethers.
How my freestyle weight loss week went:
After my set back last week, I started the week a bit discouraged. However, I knew that it would serve no purpose to dwell on it. So I put on my big girl panties and decided to focus on what I could do this week to do better. I must say that I made it through the last several weeks without binging on peeps or jelly beans. Both of which normally would have found their way into my mouth and onto my waistline. Even if we only have them once a year, I would feel bad about myself for eating them ALL.
Mom tried several new healthier recipes for Easter this year. Some were a hit, others will need to be switched up to be more palatable to everyone. After a fun day of hanging out with family and eating (lots of raw veggies found their way onto my plate), we set out for home. We finally arrived home after spending Easter and my Mother’s birthday at my parents’ house. When we got home it was after 8 pm Sunday evening and the moment of truth could not be put off any longer. I got on the scale for my weekly weigh-in. I was pleased to find that, even with a full belly, I had lost the pound I gained last week plus a quarter of a pound more! Easter and a birthday done! Until next week… Remember to stay positive and keep looking forward.
Where are you?
Where are you on your journey? What are your favorite holiday foods? Have I forgotten any survival tips?
Share your thoughts below or on my Facebook fan page.
I am not a medical professional. The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.