Holiday eating habits can wreak havoc with your fat-loss goals. The large, calorie-laden meals and increase in alcohol-fueled social events make it difficult to stick with your meal plans. It’s tempting to forget your healthy routine and just give in to all the sweets and treats that the holidays have to offer. But it can take weeks or even months to get back on track, and for some it can derail them long term.
A better option is to remain proactive about your workouts and nutrition, but make a few tweaks along the way. This will allow you to beat unwanted gains during the holiday season while still enjoying it. Here are some practical tips that can help…
Drink Black Coffee
If you know you’ve got a large meal lined up, then drinking a black coffee beforehand can help. Caffeine has been shown to suppress the appetite so that you don’t overeat yet still feel satisfied. Researchers have found that people who drink coffee in the morning go on to consume fewer calories during the meals that follow. So, drinking 1-2 cups before that Thanksgiving or Christmas meal can help to reduce your overall calorie consumption. Just be sure that it’s a black or skinny coffee, otherwise it’ll contribute to your excess calories instead of reducing them.
Exercise can increase your metabolism so that you burn more calories throughout the day. If you’ve got a big lunch planned, then try to squeeze a workout in beforehand. This will give your metabolism a boost so that your body burns calories at a faster rate. This means you’re less likely to have excess calories which would otherwise be stored as body fat or glycogen. Opt for resistance training or HIIT to get the biggest metabolism boost before your holiday meal.
Decide What You’re Having in Advance
If you’re used to meal planning then you’ll know how powerful it can be for keeping you on track. By deciding in advance what you’ll eat, you’re less likely to be tempted by unhealthy options. The same approach can be used during the holiday season. For the days where you don’t have social events to attend, just follow your meal planning routine as usual. If you do go to restaurants or other people’s houses, then decide in advance what you will and won’t eat. If you decide to have a salad then don’t even look at the rest of the menu – just focus on the salad section and choose an option from there. This reduces the temptation to make unhealthy choices or succumb to peer pressure from friends and family.
Seek Out Healthier Alternatives
Traditional holiday foods aren’t always the healthiest. They’re full of sugar and fat which make them taste delicious but can lead to unwanted weight gain. The good news is, there are lots of healthier alternatives that people have come up with. Making small swaps can have a huge impact on your calorie consumption, without leaving you feeling like you missed out. Cauliflower mash, grain stuffing, and pumpkin pudding are all lighter variations of traditional holiday dishes. For more ideas, check out this slideshow.
Exercise Portion Control
Portion control is something that trips many of us up during the holiday season. With an endless buffet of food choices, we often pile our plates up much higher than we normally would. It’s not necessarily that we’re greedy, but the presence of a buffet leads to ‘portion distortion’. This means that we perceive large portions as normal amounts so we overeat without realizing it. Proactively exercising portion control is therefore an important step to managing holiday weight gain.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating involves focusing on your food while you consume it so that you appreciate it. This leads to greater feelings of satisfaction and can counteract absent-minded inhaling of meals. The first step is to minimize distractions, which means no phones, TV, or laptops while you’re eating. The second part is making a conscious effort to notice your food. How does it look? How does it smell? Are there multiple flavors that you can pick out? How does the texture feel in your mouth? By concentrating on every mouthful, you’ll increase your satisfaction and feelings of fullness. You’ll also know when you’ve had enough instead of eating until the plate is empty (regardless of whether you need it).
Use an Appetite Suppressant
If you find appetite control difficult, then a suppressant like Thyrovate™ can help. Appetite suppressants make you feel less hungry so you’re less tempted to eat excessively. Some also increase your resistance to stress so that it doesn’t trigger emotional eating. This can be particularly helpful during the holiday period since many people find the meal organization or family gatherings more stressful than normal. Best of all, taking an appetite suppressant means that you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to resist temptation. So, you can enjoy everything in moderation without feeling deprived.
Don’t Forget Your Drinks
It’s easy to focus on food during the holidays but don’t forget to watch your drinks too. Alcohol and sugary sodas can add a large number of additional calories to your daily intake. This is often what catches people out, despite their efforts to eat healthily. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water so that your body has time to process and excrete the toxins. Avoid drinking soda with meals and go for a sparkling or still water instead. This will reduce your calorie intake and ensure you fully appreciate the flavors of the food too.
By making these small tweaks to your holiday habits, you can beat unwanted gains and stay on track for your goals. Drinking coffee, exercising early and taking an appetite suppressant will increase your metabolism and make you feel less hungry. Deciding in advance, exercising portion control, and practicing mindful eating can all help keep you on track and avoid overconsumption. Watching your drinks and finding healthier alternatives will ensure that you can enjoy the holidays without sabotaging your fat loss efforts.
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Caroline has a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science. She has an in-depth understanding of sports nutrition and wrote her Master’s thesis on protein supplementation. After graduating she also qualified as a Personal Trainer and loves to combine her knowledge of exercise, nutrition, and science to help people achieve their health goals. For over 10 years she has worked with leading fitness and nutrition companies all over the world. She also loves functional training, practising yoga, and exploring different countries in her spare time.