December is all about life’s little pleasures. You spend time with friends and family watching the snowflakes swirling in the frigid wind outside, all from the warmth and comfort of the great indoors. But the holidays are also a time of heavy meals and a seemingly endless stream of food, not to mention giving in to temptation and having that second or third slice of Grandma’s famous pie or your sister-in-law’s mouth-watering scalloped potatoes!
Extra weight after the holidays
The effects of all that feasting scream at you the second you step on your scale. A recent study showed that we all gain an average of 600 grams over the holidays. While that means that some people don’t gain any weight, others gain a lot, as much as two to three kilos!
December is the last month of the year, and it’s typically the time we allow ourselves to go overboard. It’s time to say good-bye to our resolutions—we’ll make new ones in January anyway—forget about our diet, quit watching our weight and “forget” to go to the gym.
With all those family obligations over the holidays, who has time for all that anyway?
The shorter, colder days also make going out for a brisk walk all the less appealing.
If you think about it, it’s too bad we tend to throw away, in the space of a few days, all the work we’ve done over several months. And let’s be honest: it won’t be easy to lose all those extra kilos!
Tips for maintaining your weight over the holidays
While not gaining weight during the holidays may seem like an impossible task, it's not all that hard. The following tips will help you keep your weight under control this holiday season.
- A protein-rich breakfast
During the holidays, many people come to the table famished. They’ve fasted all day so they can really take advantage of the big holiday dinner.
But that’s not a good strategy. If you don’t have a proper breakfast, your metabolism won’t be active come dinner time. And once you do start eating, your digestive system won’t be able to process all that food. Having a good breakfast will help your body absorb fewer calories at the next meals. A breakfast rich in protein helps you feel fuller for longer and avoid overeating. Here are a few examples of healthy breakfasts packed with protein:
Quinoa muesli with fruits and nuts
- Go easy on the booze!
There’s nothing wrong with toasting with a flute of bubbly or enjoying a glass of wine with your meal. But know that alcohol is very high in calories—it breaks down to form sugars—and poor in nutrient content. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, which could lead you to eat more without even realizing it.
- Avoid hors d’œuvres!
When you get to your family gathering, it’s usually not long before platters of bite-sized goodies start getting passed around. While catching up with your family members, you grab a handful of chips here, a few nuts there, a hot canapé... Before you know it, you’ve ingested a bunch of calories, and you haven’t even sat down to dinner yet!
Try really hard to avoid them! Can’t resist? Then try keeping your distance: if you can’t reach them without standing up, they might be a little easier to resist. See your sister heading your way with a tray full of tasty morsels? Run for cover! A little trip to the powder room is an excellent excuse!
- Just say “no” to seconds!
One of your biggest enemies when you’re watching your weight? The huge portions that tend to get served during the holidays. Everything is soooooo good, and not wanting to offend your host makes your job even harder! Like magic, the contents of your plate will be replenished without your having to utter a word.
Make a point of having only one serving of food at each course. That will help you limit your weight gain.
- Take a walk after eating.
After the meal, you might be tempted to relax on the sofa and chat with the other guests. Keep in mind that by doing so, you’ll put your digestion on hold, making it harder for you to digest your food. And that won’t do your waistline any favours.
Try getting the whole family to go for a walk together after the meal. After all, what better way to bring the celebrations to a close than a nice walk in the snow?
- Take some bitter plant extracts before sitting down to dinner.
Bitter plants like artichoke and dandelion root bolster the processes underlying fat metabolism. Artichoke stimulates bile secretion and as a result, eases the digestion of fatty foods, so you’ll feel lighter from the get-go.
Dandelion root improves bile circulation and makes it so that fats will be hunted down by a pack of bile salts that will make sure the fats can’t do any harm.
Bitter plants serve to wake the stomach up and prepare it for foods’ arrival. Once done, enzymes are ready and waiting to digest the contents of your plate as effectively as possible.
Another benefit worth noting is that the absorption of bitter plants helps limit symptoms such as stomach-ache, indigestion, abdominal pain, burping and nausea. You’ll likely feel less rotten the next morning.
Don’t fixate on your weight!
So those were my key tips on keeping your weight under control this holiday season. I hope you’ll find them useful. But before we go, one last tip: enjoy your meals and all the festivities! Savour the moment in good company! Not everyone can afford such a luxury.
Don’t feel guilty if you have a little too much of something amazing, and whatever you do, don’t waste your time counting calories: there's probably no better way to spoil the holiday fun!