The holidays are not an ideal time to diet, so you might plan on taking a break from the Military Diet over the Xmas season, but that doesn’t mean you have to go backwards. Relax and don’t pressure yourself to lose weight when everyone else is enjoying themselves. NOT gaining weight is considered a win during the festive season.
Focus on weight maintenance this season and get back to the Military Diet in January. We’ve outlined some simple ways to cut out holiday weight gain pitfalls and maintain your weight no matter how festive things get.
Stay active! While the rest of the family is sitting on the couch watching football and stuffing their faces with chips and dip, take the dog for a walk around the block instead of listening to Uncle Jim’s drunk ramblings. Or take the kids for a sled ride. You will all enjoy yourselves and soon become a favorite with the dogs and kids.
Choose a small plate to keep your buffet portions in check. We tend to eat larger than normal portions off larger plates, seems like a no brainer. It’s way easier to maintain portion control on a smaller plate. And don’t let family badger you into eating more than you’re comfortable with.
Don’t lose sleep over the holidays. Sleep deprivation is a cause of weight gain. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are hungrier and less physically active. Low metabolism is linked to sleep deprivation too.
Try not to stress out. Between presents, family, food and shopping, the holidays create extra stress in your life. Stressed out people have higher levels of Cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. High Cortisol levels lead to weight gain. Remember, it’s just the holiday season and this too shall pass. Make time for yourself for mediation and yoga. Learn how to say no to things that add more stress to the holidays. Ask for help to lighten your load over the holidays. Instead of doing ALL the cooking, host a potluck.
Eat more protein. Christmas is a carb wonderland, between the potatoes, bread, cookies, and chips. Make sure to balance your meals with protein, which increases your metabolism. Add fish, beans or quinoa to your plate and reduce the chance of overindulging on carbs. And without the carb crash that follows, you have more energy an hour or two after you eat, instead of craving a nap.
If you’re attending a gathering at someone else’s house, bring a healthy dish to share – a dish that’s aligned with your diet plan. You don’t have control over what others serve, so if you’re worried their way of eating isn’t compatible with yours, bringing your own healthy dish gives you control over what you eat.
Liquid calories like eggnog and special coffees are everywhere during the holiday season. An eggnog with rum can have over 300 calories in one glass – a couple of those is the equivalent of eating a big mac. Same goes for sugary mixes and alcohol, they’re all just empty calories that end up on your waist. Alcohol leads to hunger which leads to bad decisions and weight gain. Use club soda or sparkling water in place of sweetened beverages to avoid the sugar crash too. Cinnamon is low calorie and adds great flavor to holiday drinks.
Step on the scale now and then. A regular morning check in lets you stay away from weight gain denial. Don’t get obsessed but keep your eye on the scale to make sure you are maintaining your weight and not gaining. The scale doesn’t lie, but our stretchy holiday sweat pants sure do.
Avoid processed foods like boxed stuffing or cookie mixes. Focus on making all food from scratch. Then you know what’s going into your food.
Visit the buffet table ONCE. Wait 15 minutes after your first plate and if you actually feel real hunger, then visit the buffet again. An endless line of goodies is too tempting to linger around. Get some of your favorites (on your small plate) and walk away instead of grazing.
Water is your friend. Sometimes our body confuses thirst with hunger and we end up eating more calories because we’re dehydrated, easy to do if we’re drinking more alcohol than usual over the holidays. Have a glass of water 10 minutes between eating to make sure what you’re really feeling is hunger when you approach the buffet table.
Don’t skip breakfast even if you know you’ll be attending a big party later on. You might attempt to save calories that way but your plan will likely backfire. If you skip breakfast, you’re going to be starving later and overeat. Eat a good breakfast with protein like eggs and peanut butter, not donuts or muffins.