The holiday season is a time to eat, drink and be merry. With all those year-end vacations, cocktail dinners and office parties come unshakeable holiday weight gain. Research has revealed that adults gain an average of half a kilogram between mid-November and mid-January.
This may not seem like a lot, but most people don’t lose the weight they gain over the holidays – and it piles up over the years.
That’s not to say you have to go empty-stomached and resign to being the wet blanket of the party. By eating and cooking smart, you can make it through the season without dreading the scale at the end of it all.
Here are five tips to help you curb your holiday weight gain.
1. Out of sight, out of mind
During the holiday season, brownies and log cakes appear en masse to sabotage your waistline.
When treats are easily accessible, unnecessary snacking is more likely to occur. At home, you can solve this by keeping them out of sight. If you can’t stow away the snacks at your workplace’s pantry, you can cover them in opaque containers or cloches.
A recent study has revealed that people nibbled on a quarter more candies when they were placed in clear dishes versus white ones. And when they were placed further away, the average person ate only four candies a day, as opposed to nine when they were within arm’s reach. For once, it pays to be lazy!
Even if you are really peckish, you can always opt for healthier options. Fruits, seeds and nuts are filling snacks that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats.
2. Portion your food mindfully
It’s easy to overeat at Christmas dinners. When we’re distracted with all the revelry, we don’t keep track of how much we’ve nibbled on.
A no-brainer solution is to eat more slowly and mindfully. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to realize that it is full. Put down the fork between helpings and focus on chatting with your friends – when you give your food some time to settle in, you may realize you don’t need seconds after all.
Another trick is to eat off smaller dishware. We’re just more inclined to fill our plates up to the brim, so larger plates tend to lead to larger portions. In one study, nutrition experts served themselves 30% more ice cream when using oversized bowls.
The next time you’re standing before a holiday spread, spoon your portions onto a salad or dessert plate.
3. Beware of liquid calories
If your three favourite words are “free-flow alcohol”, the holidays will be extra challenging for your diet.
Alcohols and sodas can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet. Additionally, alcohol consumption can expand your appetite while literally crippling your body’s ability to burn fat.
If you’re serious about controlling your holiday weight gain, this is the season to limit your liquid calories (and preferably all year long). The same principle of using smaller kitchenware applies: pour drinks into tall, skinny glasses, not the wide-bottomed ones. Studies have shown that people are more likely to pour 30% more liquid into squatter vessels.
4. Arrive prepared
Never arrive hungry at a party. Before setting out, fortify yourself with a light snack that combines complex carbohydrates with protein and fibre. This will prevent any possibility of you going all-out at the desserts station. Hardboiled eggs on whole-wheat toast or apple slices with low-fat Greek yogurt are all excellent pre-party options.
During the actual party, start off with vegetable dishes or whatever is healthiest on the buffet table. We tend to consume the largest quantity of the foods we eat first, and vegetables also have the additional benefit of being extremely satiating.
By the time you circle back for glazed ham and lasagne, you won’t have too much room left.
5. Take charge of the cooking
If you’re hosting a party and get to decide what treats to serve, more power to you. The possibilities are endless when it comes to lowering the calorie count of Christmas recipes. Here are some ideas.
When baking, you can:
- Replace butter with mashed banana or pumpkin puree. Besides acting as natural sweeteners, these fibre-rich fruits also keep you satiated.
- Use lower-calorie sugar substitutes such as stevia or xylitol. These can wean you off sugar without compromising on flavour.
When cooking: you can:
- Season dishes with fresh herbs and spices. A squeeze of lemon or a dash of onion powder will always beat adding salt.
- Choose your cooking methods wisely. Bake, roast, steam or braise your dishes instead of frying them.
When preparing beverages, you can:
- In dairy-based drinks, use low-fat, skim milk, or soy milk in place of heavy cream.
- Add freshly squeezed lemon or lime rather than sugar for a quick vitamin C.
If you can’t follow these tips to the T, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Christmas only happens once a year, and having a good time with friends and family should be your number one priority.
Nonetheless, try not to go overboard, if only so that you’ll have an easier time working off your holiday weight. And don’t be afraid of setting limits for yourself even when they seem infeasible. You know what they say: aim for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll landing among the stars.
A fast metabolism is the gift that keeps giving. If you are looking to eat without worrying about weight gain this holiday, you may want to consider our signature CSH therapy® program. Using a traditional Chinese approach, CSH therapy® is a three-step program that consists of cupping therapy, scraping therapy and heat treatment.
When combined with sensible eating and sufficient rest, this treatment can supercharge your metabolism to produce up to 4-6kg of weight loss in 1 month*.
Since 2002, we have helped thousands of clients achieve their ideal weight with a 99 per cent success rate. Make the first step and book a consultation today, or read more about what our CSH therapy® program is about.
*Results may vary between individuals.