Here we go once again – ready or not, the holidays are looming ahead!
This year I noticed Hobby Lobby had their Christmas items out and on sale in August! And along with the festivities, excitement and celebrations come stress, feasts, holiday parties and desserts, all of which can undo months of hard work and diligence put forth in efforts to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes throughout the year.
Facing The Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain
As you're probably well aware, weight gain is extremely common during this time, as we assume it’s simply an inevitable part of the season and it’s all too easy to simply go with the flow.
Interestingly, what people perceive to be the amount of weight gained over holidays is much more than actually gained (which is right around a pound). However, this is not the case across the board.
In fact, people who are already overweight gain disproportionately more (5-10 pounds) than those of normal weight. People who were formerly overweight are more likely to fall victim to greater weight gain as well.
What I’ve found is that holiday weight gain has less to do with one or 2 large celebratory meals and more to do with a “mode” or “mindset” we inadvertently fall into, slipping into irrational thinking patterns.
Smart planning and prioritizing usually go out the window as people get so wrapped up in the “Hallmark-ing” of the season, they forget the whole reason and purpose behind it. We stress out about things like gobs of gifts to we must give to kids while neglecting to spend time with them. We wait in lines and fight crowds for hours at malls and get so caught up in the “commercialization” that we start to make irrational choices.
And self control toward eating healthy diabetic diet. Well…self control goes out the window!
How can we prevent this? Well…being aware of it is a start. We know it’s coming and we all know our weaknesses.
Be smart this season and don’t forget your priorities – YOU!
And here are a few tips to help avoid the (not so inevitable) holiday weight gain:
Avoid an Excessive Thanksgiving Meal
It all starts with that first meal and how you approach. And the best advice is to be prepared.
Avoid an excessive Thanksgiving meal. Straying a bit from your normal eating pattern a few days out of the year is not going to send your blood sugar and weight haywire. What I mean by straying a bit is eating a bit more turkey, having a helping of potatoes (ie a serving is ½ cup!) or a few bites of dessert.
Your meal can still be special, enjoyable and include some of your favorites without eating gobs of everything. Draw the line between having a celebratory meal and gluttonously splurging on multiple plates of starches (potatoes and pies) and sweets.
My advice: if Thanksgiving is at your house, choose to prepare one, or at most, two starch-based meals (or avoid them all together!), two main courses, one dessert and many, many vegetables.
Fall/winter is a wonderful time for roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts. Have a salad with all your meals and use a veggie platter as an appetizer served with hummus, guacamole, or yogurt ranch dip.
If Thanksgiving is at someone else’s home? YOU bring the salad or the veggie platter appetizer and a healthy vegetable side dish for yourself!
Learn to Say No
Remember that the real issue with holiday weight gain has very little to do with splurging or choosing a few high-calorie/high-carb foods 2 days (Thanksgiving and Christmas) out of 365 days. It has everything to do with the fact that we get into “holiday season mode” and ride out these choices for nearly 2 months!
In one study, 51% of a person’s annual weight gain was during the 6 week period from Thanksgiving to New Years.
As we begin planning for the family to come over for Thanksgiving, fantasies of festive favorites start to dance in our heads and we create exorbitant meals and eat to excess. We let our guards down because that’s just what we do this time of year. Since we make such large quantities, there are leftovers and we can’t let those go to waste right? So it’s turkey sandwiches, pie for days…then comes Christmas parties, work events and the neighbors bring over cookies..how nice!
Then there is not only Christmas, but Christmas Eve special foods and so many of us have extended or multiple families, so sometimes there are several feasts in one day!
Other times, we just re-celebrate with our spouses family on a different day. Then there are leftovers from that and we have New Years parties–guess what that alcohol does? In addition to being empty calories, it lowers our inhibition even more with regard to food choices, so we choose the junk and overeat yet again. It’s a wonder our weight gain isn’t even higher over this time.
We need to learn to rein in our self-control and remain guarded and aware during this tempting time.
The tendency is to go into auto-pilot and just passively go along with what everyone else is doing or convincing us we ought to do.
We need to first learn how to say “no” to ourselves – this means exerting self-control or will-power
Then, we need to say “no” to others.
Which one is more difficult for you?
Exerting self control and willpower involves knowing your weaknesses and tendencies and choosing to not let yourself get away with excuses.
Saying no to others involves knowing the right way to approach friends and family in a way that is confident and assertive and not aggressive, which often backfires and puts people on the defensive.
How do you be confident and assertive with others?
Use “I” statements regarding your feelings and choices rather than “you” statements.
As an example, if someone points out they made your favorite pie because they knew you were coming, you can simply respond by saying: “Wow thanks – that was very thoughtful of you. Right now I’m pretty full from such a big meal, but maybe I’ll have room later.”
You don’t even have to mention anything about your special diabetic diet, nor insult your hosts by not eating their dish.
Don’t Spiral Down into the “‘Holiday Season Mode”
Over the holiday season, be smart and be prepared.
Get yourself in the right mindset because once people let their guard down it has a snowball effect (no pun intended) and they tend to let loose, just excusing it as what everyone does during the holiday season.
If you don’t have a plan or anticipate these struggles, you will likely fall victim to the same issues year after year. Anticipate what is coming – hustle and bustle, business and stress, large meals and cookies at your workplace…you know what it looks like in your particular situation, so be ready for it!
Think about where and how you fell off track last year and consider your weaknesses. Take some time to slow down and consider what the holidays mean to you and what’s most important. If you slip up, get right back on track immediately.
Let your slips be less damaging and shorter lasting than they were before. Have a plan and you will be more likely to stick with it!
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