Here’s the thing. Dieting during the holidays is cruel. It just is. Not only is more temptation around making a diet harder, BUT even if you do turn it down there’s a higher chance of a future binge if you are feeling deprived.
Instead of weight loss, your goal should be to MAINTAIN your weight.
Maintenance calories typically allow for more flexibility in your diet. The added calories should make it so you can enjoy the occasional treat with family & friends and not see that scale jump.
We have plenty of tips to help you avoid holiday weight gain here, but for now I just want to focus on a few.
Eat only foods you enjoy.
I always say never drink your calories, but even bigger than that is to never waste calories on a food you don’t enjoy.
Sometimes at a party we feel the obligation to eat foods that aren’t that great just because they are offered to us. There’s no point to eating cookies that are just so-so. If I’m gonna indulge in something, it needs to be worth it.
If you don’t like oatmeal raisin cookies, then skip it and save your calories for some pumpkin pie.
If there’s a situation where you try a food and you decide you don’t like it, you are not required to finish it.
But is that wasteful? The way I look at it, whether it ends up in your stomach or not, no one else is going to eat it after you take that first bite.
Indulging vs binging.
Something to keep in mind is that indulging is completely different than binging.
Indulging is allowing yourself to enjoy something you love.
Binging is an act of obsessive or compulsive consumption.
Binging usually comes from a place of too much restriction. You go from a period of being too controlled with your eating to completely lacking control, overeating and not even really enjoying the food you’ve binged.
Indulging keeps you in control. You eat something because you choose to and you savor every bite guilt free.
Pay attention to hunger cues.
Using a mindful eating approach, really allows us to manage our appetites better by listening to our own hunger cues. Aim to eat when you’re hungry.
If you’re not hungry but have a specific craving that you can’t shake, most of the times you can satisfy it with just a few bites.
I have found that whether I eat 2 bites or 20 bites of an indulgent food, I’m usually left with the same level of satisfaction. So, those extra 18 really weren’t necessary…
Also, if you ask a friend to split your dessert with you, they are usually more than willing.
If you struggle with constant snacking…
…especially when there’s good food in the house, here’s an easy fix: get out of the house!
I am a snacker. I like to enjoy food and like to eat even when I’m not hungry. Getting away from the temptation is the easiest way to combat that. I will stay out of the house all day if I can to make the food less accessible.
You can even do this at work if you have tons of snacks at your office. Just stay in the zone and focused on work, don’t give yourself downtime to munch. If you need a break, take a walk out of the office. That could just be a walk 5 minutes in one direction and 5 minutes back. You still get the mental break, but are away from the office snacks.
Why eating maintenance calories is a great strategy:
Like I mentioned before, dieting during the holidays is a lot harder because of the constant temptation coming from parties and social events.
Switching to maintenance calories takes the pressure off, keeping you from binging AND it puts you ahead of the game.
So many people gain weight during the holidays because they overindulge. They do this either because they’re stressed from restricting their diets too much or they just are not mindful of their food intake.
If your goal is to maintain you weight and you follow the easy steps we outlined above, you should be set.
Here’s the thing, one unhealthy meal is not going to make you gain weight, just like eating a salad one time doesn’t automatically make you lose weight.
We are a product of what we do every day. Make good choices 80% of the time and let yourself indulge within reason.