The holidays are just around the corner and so today I want to share with you my tips for surviving the holidays on a weight loss journey.
I started my weight loss journey on September 14, 2019, so I can proudly say that I survived Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And let’s not forget Halloween and tons of leftover candy for weeks.
Quite frankly, if we only had one day to celebrate we wouldn’t have to worry, but unfortunately, we have an entire season of parties, dinners, open houses, cookie exchanges, and so on. There are probably dozens and dozens of temptations every day and everywhere.
Holiday Weight Gain
How much weight does the average person gain over the holidays? Some studies have found that most people gain 1 – 2 pounds during the holiday season. However, overweight and obese individuals gain 5 or more pounds over the holidays!
What’s worse is that weight gained over the holidays is not lost during the rest of the year. Unfortunately, some of us are well aware of this. We all are on diets on January 1st, lose a bit of weight, but soon give up.
The holidays can be the start of a cumulative weight gain that turns into obesity over time. So rather than adding five or more pounds during the holidays here are my tips on how to survive the holidays on a weight loss journey.
For many of us, the holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry. It’s a perfectly good excuse to eat and drink everything in sight.
Also read The 7 Best Weight Loss Motivation Tips
However, follow these tips and you will be successful on your weight loss during the holidays!
My Experience Surviving the Holidays on a Diet
But before I share my tips on surviving the holiday season on a weight loss journey, let me share with you my weight loss in November and December last year.
In November 2019, I lost 12.4 pounds and in December 2019, I lost 13.1. So not only can you survive the holidays on a weight loss program, theoretically, you can even lose weight during the holiday season.
Also Read My 80 Pound Weight Loss Success Story
I used a number of strategies to continue to lose weight in November and December and I’m sure you will find some helpful tips.
Alright let’s get to it
Tips on Surviving the Holidays on a Weight Loss Journey
Have a Plan
The first tip to surviving the holidays on a diet is to have a plan. Every situation is different, the guests are different, the menu varies, and therefore your plan for each event should be very different.
Last year I had attended a Christmas party at a client’s home and from past experience, I knew they were going to likely serve pizza and wings. So my strategy was to stay for only an hour. There is only so much I can do to avoid not eating too much pizza!
Be the Host
It is so much better for your weight loss journey at this time of the year is to host as much as possible. You are in complete control of the food and the drinks being served.
If you are a guest, be the best guest and offer to bring a healthy dish or two. I like to bring a main dish and a dessert that way I am sure to eat something that is suitable for my diet.
As a bonus, think of the extra calories you’ll burn, shopping, cleaning and cooking for your big event!
The holiday season is all about food, food and more food. And for some people, alcohol, alcohol and more alcohol. While you can’t use exercise to combat a bad diet, you can use exercise to mitigate poor food and drink choices.
Can you add a few more minutes to your workout? Can you do 500 or 1,000 more steps a day? Can you add an extra workout day to your week? You get the picture. I added a short indoor walk before and after dinner on most days.
One of my friends has a family tradition of going for a walk between the main course and dessert on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Another friend does a 30 fitness challenge every December.
I must tell you that you will feel so much better knowing that you are moving more over the holidays and sticking to your weight loss. Being consistent with your workouts will go a long way in helping you survive the holidays on a diet.
Limit Alcohol and Liquid Calories
If you can, limit or avoid alcohol to not gain weight during the holiays . Alcohol not only adds extra calories to your daily intake but for some of us, it loosens your inhibitions and makes it harder to make better choices.
Choose dry wine instead of sweet wines or light beer instead of regular beer. When I do have a drink I choose prosecco which only has about 70 calories a serving. You may not find prosecco at most events, so bring your own, if possible.
Stay away from the sugary cocktails including egg nog which has about 260 calories per serving.
Last holiday season I really tried extra hard to only drink water to avoid extra calories even from ‘healthy’ juices. Basically, liquid calories are less satisfying and do not make you feel full. In other words you will still want food in addition to your drinks.
So don’t waste those precious holiday calories on alcohol, soda, juice, and even sports drinks and weight loss during the holidays will be possible.
Don’t skip a meal prior to a big holiday dinner. You will only arrive super hungry and feel that it’s okay to eat everything in sight. Instead, eat something filling prior to the party. Simply put, if you are full, you are not going to overeat. And weight loss during the holidays will be easier.
Fiber and protein are the best choices for helping you to be filled and less likely to make poor choices. My favorite pre-party meal is a bowl of high fiber chickpeas.
When you are faced with food choices during the holidays stick to turkey, chicken or fish and lots and lots of vegetables. There will likely be a vegetable platter for hors d’oeuvres and one or two vegetable side dishes. Hopefully, you will be able to have some fruit for dessert.
Also read Best 5 Foods for Permanent Weight Loss
Offer to bring a healthy option for any of the courses so you’ll be guaranteed to have a better choice.
Here are more food tips on how not to gain weight during the holidays.
Remember that eating sugary foods only leads to a spike in your blood sugar levels, then a dip and ultimately more craving for sugar. And what’s worse, at this time of the year, there is always more sugar right around the corner. So avoid the sugar trap as much as possible throughout the holidays.
Avoid Salty Foods
You should avoid salty foods at all times, but this is especially important during the holidays. Extra salt causes you to retain water which will show up on the scale.
Avoid Fried Foods
The extra oil from frying foods only adds extra calories that you don’t need at any time, but during the holidays it’s best to use those calories on special holiday favorites.
No White Stuff
Although we love a white Christmas, you don’t want to eat white bread, white rice or white pasta. The lack of fiber in these white foods does not leave you feeling full and eventually, you will eat more. Unfortunately, with a bounty of extra calories around at the holiday season, the temptations are even harder to resist.
Also read The 4 Worst Foods for Weight Loss
This is not the time of year to consistently overindulge. My survival tip is to watch your portion size and never have seconds (or thirds). Everything that I’m going to eat must fit on one plate.
Use a Smaller Plate
One thing that I do, where possible, is to use a smaller plate. Although the research is mixed on this, if you are not too hungry, a smaller plate can reduce the number of calories you consume and will not lead to weight gain during the holidays..
Avoid the Sauces and Dips
Sometimes the extra calories and sugar are hiding in the sauces, gravy and dips. This also includes salad dressings. So don’t make your weight loss during the holidays any harder by consuming the sauces and dips.
Focus on People not Food
Hopefully, you will attend great parties with great people. Why not spend more time talking to them and therefore less time eating. In other words, talk more, eat less. Stay as far away as possible from the food table to keep your weight loss on track.
There is a strong correlation between poor sleep and weight gain. In fact, after a bad night’s sleep you are more likely to choose unhealthy foods. One study found that a partial sleep deprivation led to an increase of 365 calories the following day!
Imagine the damage you can do to your diet at a party if the night before you have a few hours of sleep! Sleep well, my friends, and you will definitely survive the holidays on a weight loss journey.
Also read Everything You Need to Know About Sleep and Weight Loss
Watch out for the Saboteurs
Watch out for those who want to sabotage your weight loss especially if it is evident that you have lost weight! There are a few people out there who will secretly be jealous of your success and will do everything to get you off your diet.
There will pressure you into trying the chocolate cake, the cookies and so on. Be firm and polite. Don’t be bullied into eating something that you don’t want. This is your life, and be in control of your life.
Indulge a Little
My final tip on surviving the holidays on a diet is that ‘tis the season to be jolly, so don’t be afraid to indulge … a little. I indulge in the best of the best food that is not usually available or super special. In other words, I will have Aunt Rosie’s cookies instead of Oreos.
How To Survive the Holidays on a Weight Loss Journey
I hope I was able to show that you can not only survive the holidays on a weight loss journey, but that you can also lose weight as well.
Yes you can have fun and enjoy the holidays, but remember that the holidays are more than food. This year the effects of social distancing and quarantine have been particularly difficult for many of us.
I sadly realize the importance of family and friends and will be looking forward to reconnecting with my loved ones this holiday season.
Eat, drink wisely and be merry!