It is that time of the year again. The long awaited December festive season. Friends and families plan to spend long lazy days around tables laden with the most tempting of foods. Everyone is excited to be together. There are lots of laughs, and sometimes (especially when we spend time with family) the occasional fight. In the midst of the excitement you may even have occasion to get bored. Ever notice how the same stories often get told and retold at Christmas time? Whatever the emotion or the occasion, holiday foods will be available in abundance to treat you, amuse you and console you. It may seem downright impossible to stick to your diet during the holiday season, but take note of the seven weight loss tips below and you may even be able to lose some weight. At the very least, you can minimize the damage. Every pound you gain over the next couple of weeks have to be dealt with next year after all.
- Keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating regular healthy meals and snacks that contain plenty of protein and fiber. Remember that simple carbs like sugar and baked goods cause huge fluctuations in your blood sugar which in turn makes it difficult for you to resist temptation. Eat something healthy at least every 4 hours. Examples of good snacks are assorted fresh vegetables with humus dips, almonds and peanuts roasted in the shell. Cheese and wholemeal crackers can also make wonderful snacks, but stick to small portions.
- Keep a water bottle with you all the time. You will be surprised how many unnecessary calories water can save you from. Tell yourself you can have any treat you want provided you have half a glass to a glass of water first. Then enjoy the treat. Not only will you automatically eat less, but your energy levels will be up and you will be much more in control of your appetite.
- Have a small and healthy snack an hour before you go out to a dinner party so you don’t arrive famished. When you are hungry, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin which instructs your body it needs food. As a result of this flood of hormones you get so hungry that it becomes very difficult for you to enjoy the company rather than the food. You will instinctively focus on the food; and, since it takes 30 minutes at least for your body to realize it has had enough, you are very likely to overeat. If you do have that snack beforehand, the levels of ghrelin in your blood when you arrive at the party will be lower, and you should be able to enjoy the snacks on offer as much, but in moderation.
- Avoid keeping dishes with candy around your house as decorations, and if you receive hampers of chocolates or sweets as gifts, take them along to the next party so you can share them with friends. If you are careful not to give these hampers back to the friends that gave them to you in the first place, these hampers can save you some money! Just pass them on to other friends, family members or colleagues who may appreciate them more than you do. Bowls of whole nuts can be as decorative as candy around the house, and will have far less devastating results on your waistline.
- If you really, really want a piece of chocolate, a slice of cheesecake, or whatever takes your fancy – have it and don’t feel guilty, but concentrate on the taste and stop when you don’t enjoy it as much anymore. Most people really taste the first few mouthfuls after which they really just continue eating the remainder of the treat because it is there. You can save yourself a lot of effort and heartache later simply by asking : “Do I really still enjoy this?”. If you don’t, just leave the rest. It is not fashionable to leave clean plates anymore!
- Accept that you are human and as such do have a real need to participate in all the festive fun, and that you will in all probability make the odd mistake. If you do give in to temptation, have a good giggle and move on. Binge-eating comes about when you deprive yourself of too much for too long. When you then have that inevitable diet slip-up, you find that you can’t stop. You throw all caution overboard and decide to binge for the rest of the day and resume the diet again the next day. Sounds familiar? In the longer run, binge-eating does more damage to your chances of success in reaching your goal weight than the occasional treat ever would.
- Start moving and have fun. Instead of just sitting around the holiday table with your companions, try to get out and participate in fun activities. Go for long leisurely walks, play some long forgotten ball games with the kids, or get involved in some outdoor activities such as skiing or skating. Not only will you work of some of those calories you have been taking in, but you may be surprised at how much more you enjoy the time with those dearest to you.