Surviving the eating season

One of the most common questions I hear this time of year is ‘how do I get through the holidays without gaining weight?’

It’s certainly a valid concern, especially if you have been working hard all year long to lose weight.

While many may be surprised by this next statement, the goal over the holiday season should actually be to maintain your weight and not necessarily lose weight.

This is a good example of having your cake and eating it too. If you wish to partake in the season’s festivities, then it is simply a matter of enjoying goodies with appropriate portions and exercise to balance in mind.

Consider the following tips to keep your weight in check without bowing out of social occasions:

Limit your choices

Enjoy the variety of food the season brings but try not to over-indulge by sticking to favourite treats you would only get during the holidays (you can eat a chocolate chip cookie any time, right?)

At parties or holiday feasts, allow yourself one selection of a particular food type. For instance, choose either the rice or mashed potato for a side dish, not both, and enjoy that piece of holiday pie, but try not to top it up with a slice of cake and cookies!

Do not skip exercise

Holiday ‘to do’ lists get longer and eventually that important activity of exercise gets bumped for yet another social engagement. No matter how overbooked your holiday calendar becomes, do not sacrifice exercise!

If there is one saving grace over the holiday season, it is your exercise. Adding an extra 10-15 minutes to your workout can help compensate for your culinary indulgences the night before.

Taking time to exercise will also not only lower the likelihood of gaining weight over the holidays, but it will also help lessen the stresses typically experienced during the season.

Keep liquid calories to a minimum

Many partygoers often skip foods and opt for drinks hoping to save calories, yet typical party beverages can be very calorie costing. As you can see from the list below several drinks over the course of an evening can easily add up:

Eggnog: 340 calories per 8oz.

Fruit juice: 120 calories per 8oz.

Fruit punch: 115 calorie per 8oz.

Sugary sodas: 100 calories per 8oz.

Wine: 170 calories per 8oz.

Beer: 100 calories per 8oz.

Liquor/Spirits: 110 calories per 8oz.

Champagne: 100 calories per 8oz.

Never go to a party hungry

It is amazing how many people skimp out on calories during the day to allow for a splurge later. This plan will always backfire.

Stick to your normal routine of eating meals on time – starting with breakfast, of course – and eat a wholesome snack before heading off to that party.

I am never surprised to hear how quickly healthy intentions go out the window when a person who has eaten like a bird all day has succumbed to more than a few treats at a holiday party.

The bottom line here is that eating can often get out of control when food restrictions are too strict. How many of you have told yourself that the year was going to be different and that you wouldn’t be swayed by the season’s pleasures, only to find yourself stuffing your face at the first opportunity?

Balancing foods is also important. Limiting cookies, cakes, and candy is recommended, but the problem with eliminating these foods (especially during the holidays), is that it sets unrealistic, expectations that often result in bingeing.

So indulge, but do so moderately. Learn to listen to your body, and stop eating when you have had enough. Eating holiday foods we enjoy is allowed when moderation is practiced.

So avoid the tight-belt syndrome this January and make some healthier choices this holiday season.