“DATA SHOWS THIS IS PROBABLY THE LEAST YOU’LL WEIGH ALL YEAR. SORRY.” This was a recent sub-headline to the EAT WELL column in the New York Times.
The article welcomes readers to the season of putting on the pounds. They shared data published by the New England Journal of Medicine that concluded that indulgent ‘meals’, large or snack-sized, which start at Thanksgiving and crest on New Year’s Day, will lead to weight gain. It will take twice as much time for the weight to come off as it did to pack it on. Happy Holidays?
This is hardly news. We know that the holiday tale of excess comes with a hefty price — mind, body and wallet. New Year’s resolutions to lose weight are about as predictable as the unintended weight gain.
Professor Brian Wansink of Cornell Business School, who has studied holiday weight gain internationally recommends, “Instead of trying to come up with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, it’s a whole lot better to maybe have … a resolution to gain less in the first place.” He suggests getting on the scale more often, too as big holidays are approaching. In his studies participants who got on the scale (leading up to New Years) four or more times a week, were more prone to gain less weight and lose it faster in the first month of the new year.
There can be a litany of expenses associated with weight loss-related New Year’s resolutions.These might include, but are not limited to the following: a gym membership, nutrition adviser, trainer, pricey supplements, detoxes and the stress that comes with developing new habits. So, what if the aggravation and costs associated with weight gain, cruising through the season in a blaze of powdered sugar, could be avoided? What if the slow march into a new year came without the slow climb on the scale? To be able to zip up your pants easily, without regrets all month, while still enjoying treats long associated with ‘the most wonderful time of year’ sounds like a pretty sweet plan.
LET EATING HEALTHY PART-TIME BE YOUR TICKET TO SURE-THRIVING THE HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR.
1. HAVE A PLAN
Winston Churchill said that, ‘He who fails to plan, plans to fail.’ This is true of healthy eating. A goal without a proposed strategy is just a wish. If you want to taste trigger foods at holiday parties without overeating them, eat a small meal of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat an hour before attending an event. You should feel more enervated and balanced rather than ravenous when you arrive.
Eat a real breakfast instead of just sipping coffee to get your engine running on high octane early in the day. Instead of looking at December as a wash, eating-wise, plan to eat a healthy midday or evening meal before a party. Hydrate well and eat more raw fruits, fresh veggies and whole foods prior to the event. Scan the buffet and stake out selective indulgences before filling your plate.
2. THE 3 BITE RULE: A PORTION CONTROL TOOL
Ever notice that the first three bites of anything you eat are the best bites? The first bite lives up to what you expected — full of flavor and so delicious. The next bite is good, sometimes really good. The third bite never compares to the first or second. In economics they would call this the margin of diminishing returns. It might be time to move on. Be sure the three bites are savored mindfully.
3. WIN FRIENDS AND OFFICE MATES WITH DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY HOLIDAY FAVORITES
What better way to spread holiday cheer than cooking or baking nostalgic foods that taste great and energize you in a style that is sustainable. Rethink recipes for healthier chocolate treats, holiday-worthy side dishes, nourishing breakfast cookies and more on my Pinterest boards at http://www.pinterest.com/ronnacorlin/
4. BE A SMART SNACKER
Inevitably a holiday cookie tin shows up during the holidays at school or at home. Hopefully you are not starved when it finds its way to you. If your previous meal has adequate protein and enough healthy fat to keep you satisfied, perhaps you can enjoy a cookie or two. Your emergency snack stash (a crisp apple or dried fruit stuffed with nuts) is the perfect foil for just such moments. Travel with one daily.
Dried figs stuffed with walnuts and almonds packed in Medjool dates are the perfect pick-me-up at the office. Bring them to a holiday party so you can bank on ‘sneaky’ sustainable holiday cheer.
5. GUARD YOUR SLEEP LIKE YOUR APPETITE DEPENDS ON IT
A lack of sleep is not uncommon during the holidays. It can lead to feelings of hunger, especially for junk food, considered empty calories, which can send the weight scale soaring. Sleep restriction can also toy with hormone levels that regulate hunger. This imbalance can increase calorie intake. Guard your sleep well.
Make these simple and perfectly portioned Apple Pie Roses for a holiday celebration. Find video instructions by Googling Apple Rose Pie.
6. BRING YOUR OWN HEALTHY DISH TO SHARE
It’s hard to know if there will be something to eat where you are headed, so bring a favorite healthy dish and share it with others. For Thanksgiving, I committed to hosting an exclusively plant-based holiday dinner. The vegan menu included creamed greens made with a delightful dairy-free cashew sauce, rice pudding prepared with nutritionally dense brown rice, and sweet potatoes with honeyed tahini and herbs and fried hazelnuts. My main dish included plant protein-based Tur’ky Cutlets with caramelized onions. Apple Pie Roses and Banana Nice Cream with smoky candied pecans finished the meal. Guests were pleasantly surprised to discover that delicious and health supportive are not mutually exclusive.
I share these and other healthy holiday recipe ideas on Instagram at http://instagram.com/wholefoodieronna (@WholeFoodieRonna)in hopes it might solve healthy eating dilemmas during the most wonderful, and perhaps most stressful time of the year.
7. KEEP NUTRIENT LEVELS HIGH TO COMBAT THE AFFECTS OF SEASONAL STRESS
Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables in at least two of three meals per day. Include measured portions of healthy plant-based fats including nuts, seeds (hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower) and avocados.
This is not to suggest that this is the time for an excessive restriction of calories or an urging to forgo the holiday treats that will appear in generous quantities over the coming weeks. This is more about embracing the season of highly-anticipated comfort foods — buttery cookies and pies, hot appetizers, toddies, family dinners and liquid cheer with a strategic intent rather than reckless abandon.
Make a conscious effort to crowd out this season of indulgent eating with clean, whole foods at least part-time. Be strategic about food choices and portion sizes. Listen to your body a bit more. Stay alert to what truly nourishes you and move through December without regrets.
Happy NOW Year.
Originally published at medium.com