It’s safe to say that healthy diet often goes out the window around the holidays, particularly when there’s a family party or holiday work function full of unhealthy food! It seems impossible to avoid weight gain when you have all the pressures of holiday eating – almost everywhere you turn there is another temptation waiting to throw you off your game.
No one is perfect. We are guilty of feeding our cravings during the holidays (it is the time of year for giving, right)? If you’re like me, you may find yourself slowly giving into sweet treats, alcoholic drinks, and fried foods as the holiday season intensifies. But throughout the years I’ve picked up some great tips that help me to avoid gaining weight and stick to my diet, holiday or no holiday. See if any of these tips will work for you:
1. Remember your motivation
Before you decide to participate in a holiday feast, remember what motivated you to start your diet in the first place. If you went through bariatric surgery, then chances are you made the decision to have it because you want to be healthier for yourself and your family. Whenever you feel tempted by holiday junk food, ask yourself if you’d rather eat something sweet or see your family for the holidays again next year. With that kind of powerful motivation, you will be a lot less likely to cave in when facing food temptation.
2. Eat before you go
Before you head out to that holiday party, eat a small healthy meal first. Something light such as a salad or fish with steamed veggies can keep your stomach entertained and partially full until you reach. That way you won’t be starving when you arrive and will have a smaller chance of “accidentally” eating huge amounts of unhealthy food.
3. Fill up on water, fruits, veggies, and lean protein
Hopefully, your holiday party will have at least a couple of healthy options — most likely fruits and veggies. If there happens to be some lean protein included in the meal that is not fried, you can allow yourself to have a small portion. Do your best fill yourself up on these, even if they’re not full a meal, and then eat have a full healthy meal later on.
4. Choose foods you love
This is probably the most important holiday diet tip. Dieting during the holidays means being more picky about the foods you want to indulge in. While the goal is to eat healthily, don’t eat foods just because they are good for you — eat them because they are good for you AND you love them. If you hate eating salads, don’t fill up on salads – find another healthy food you can indulge in. Mix things up, just watch your calorie count. Once you find the foods you love that are healthy, and you’ll have a much easier time sticking with the diet through the holidays.
5. Indulge in little portions
There is no need to go extreme with your diet this holiday and completely swear off desserts and treats…. you still deserve to enjoy yourself! But the trick to eating healthy most of the time (I follow the 80/20 rule myself). When you do decide to indulge in a treat, do it in small amounts. Instead of a full slice, just have two or three bites of cake or just a few spoonfuls ice cream. By indulging in small portions you won’t kill your diet but you will satisfy your sweet craving. If you are the type you can’t stop once they start then you may want to avoid the dessert area completely – eating an entire tube of ice cream is NOT recommended!
6. Don’t stuff your face
Whatever you do, do not stuff yourself with food, healthy or not. This is a very important diet rule. Even if you end up breaking down and eating that fatty, fried food holiday dinner, just don’t eat until you’re stuffed. Stop eating when you are about 80% full, this way you can still eat the unhealthy stuff and limit the damage.
7. Don’t starve yourself
When you allow your body to starve, you are more likely to overindulge in sweet healthy foods such as cakes, cookies, and pies. This is done to your blood sugar levels being so low that your body craves instant sugar – a sure setup for major binge eating. On holiday dinner day, make sure you snack frequently or eat small portions so you never get super hungry.
8. If you indulge, burn it off.
During the holidays it is pretty common for some (maybe even all) of the diet strategies listed above to fail. That is OK! Don’t be too hard on yourself about it, we have all been there. Just make sure you get back on the health wagon and get your diet back on track. If you overdid it during the holidays, make up for it by finding ways to burn off those extra calories. Get outside and go running, speed walking, play sports – whatever it takes, just don’t do anything drastic! Once you feel you’ve evened out your heavy eating with heavy exercise, you can start eating healthy again.