Surviving and Thriving during the Holiday Season

surviving and thriving during the holidaysHolidays….hmmm. What can I say? They can be magical, glorious, stressful, depressing, anxiety provoking, lonely, tiring, and every other emotion as well. From a weight loss and maintenance perspective, they can definitely be CHALLENGING. But they don’t have to be. Here are some thoughts on how to thrive and succeed this holiday season.

If you are on a weight loss journey, you still have to live your life. Too much restriction can make us weary and lead to what I refer to as “revenge eating” later.

The key to preventing weight gain over the holidays is planning ahead, and managing expectations. Regardless of your plan, lean protein and veggies over the holidays is always a safe bet. Go into the holidays with a plan and try to stick to it, but don’t beat yourself up if you are not perfect. Ask anyone in our clinic: if you maintain your weight loss over the holidays, you have succeeded!

Holiday Tips to Insure Success:

1.  Get moving!

Try to get a good workout in the day of the feast or event, so you have more wiggle room. Go for a walk, play basketball or football- whatever works for you. As you know- exercise helps improve our sense of well-being (which may help us deal with our relatives….I’m just saying…) and also encourages us to make better choices throughout the day. Get that blood moving so you can digest those calories better!

2.  Eat healthy and light around the big feast.

Have a small but healthy breakfast and a light lunch. Think about having a protein bar or shake to help conserve calories for the “feast!”

3.  Have a plan.   

Feast does not have to = gorge.   It is always best to plan ahead. What food will be there? Is there something you only have once a year? How much of it will you eat?  To control your choices, think about bringing a veggie tray that you can munch on as an appetizer. Think about bringing a healthy dessert like fruit with light whipped cream so that you can enjoy but not overly indulge.

4. Watch the alcohol.

Research has shown that we eat more when we drink alcohol, because we become less inhibited when we drink. Therefore, we have to account for the calories of the alcohol plus the calories of the extra food we take in. Try downsizing your glasses. Mentally, we like to fill space. Filling up a smaller glass helps us control that urge.

5. Don’t let the holi-day turn into a holi-week

Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy with your loved ones. Enjoy the spirit of the day, and give praise to what you are grateful for. When you wake up on Friday, it is always nice to have Thanksgiving leftovers, but be very careful.  Don’t let the floodgates open and have Thanksgiving turn the entire month of December into a food-fest.  Get back on track with a healthy plan on Friday or Saturday, and give the leftovers away.

6. Choose some non-eating events this holiday

Go see a movie, go bowling with your family or friends, or just bundle up and take a walk at night to look at the holiday lights that are starting to appear. Learn a new non-eating trait, such as woodworking, knitting, coloring- or anything that gives you pleasure that does not involve food.

7.  Remember how to fill your plate

Picture dividing your plate in half. On the first half, put your salad and veggies. On the second ½, fill 2/3 with lean protein. The last 1/3 is left for your carbs so chose carefully.

8.  Don’t forget the three bite rule.

I am sure you have heard me say this before- but use the three bite rule for desserts.  You can have three bites of anything. That tends to saturate the receptors of your limbic system (that reward center of your brain that is always looking for pleasure).  What does that mean? Regardless of how much you eat, you will never get that “first bite sensation” after the third bite. (To your limbic system, it might as well be broccoli.)

9.  Celebrate You

Focus on the positive! I have my patients write down 3 things they are proud of that they have accomplished this year. Positive attracts positive, and helps your mind-body-soul connection.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Scinta

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