It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless you are trying to adhere to a weight-loss plan. Then the holidays can feel like a day-after-day deprivation. The 41 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be packed with festivities filled with fattening foods making you feel frantic and frustrated. But denying yourself of all the holiday treats is not the way to go.
The act of restricting your favorite foods can actually backfire and bring about unplanned overeating and binging. A 2007 study in the journal Appetite documented this vicious cycle which can result in feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression. Dieters who implemented strict food restrictions had an increased desire for those "forbidden foods," bringing about food cravings and greater temptation; when compared to dieters who included these type "forbidden foods" on occasion.
So keep this the most wonderful time of the year--relax, enjoy the holiday and include the foods you love--on occasion! Here are strategies and tips to help:
- Focus on Maintenance: Go into weight maintenance mode during the holidays, and then kick it into high gear again come Jan. 1, as your New Year's resolution. The goal isn't to lose weight during this time, just not gain back the pounds you've already lost.
- Party with a Plan: Starting few days before a special gathering, office party, or family celebration, save 100-200 calories each day and put them in your "calorie bank" to spend the day of the big event. You could easily have 600-800 extra calories saved to spend at the party on those higher-calorie buffet and bar options.
- Scope Out the Buffet First: Look for food items that you really want and would really enjoy tasting and eating. Mentally note what you want the most. Then go get your plate and fill it with a small sample of each item. Mindfully eat each sample focusing on the appearance, smell, texture, and flavor. Later in the evening, get a second tasting of only those items that truly tempted your taste buds. Check out these best and worst party food ideas:
Here's a pinnable, printable graphic that can remind you at a glance which choices are better!
And the details....
| Best Party Foods || Calories || Leave on |
the Buffet Table
| Calories |
| Veggies (1 cup) and low-fat dressing or salsa || 145 || Chips (1 ounce) and dip (2 T) || 250 |
| Boiled shrimp (12 large) || 70 || Chicken wings (6 wings) || 510 |
| Hummus (2 T) and pita (2 wedges) || 90 || Cheese (4 1-inch cubes) and crackers (5) || 360 |
| Pumpkin pie (1/8 pie) Skip the end of the crust to save 75 more calories || 235 || Pecan pie (1/8 pie) || 490 |
What are your holiday survival tips and suggestions?
- Beware of the Bar: Alcohol is a double-whammy. These drinks contain many calories, but also lower your inhibition and discipline. A couple of drinks and you may find yourself downing mounds of nuts, chunks of cheese, and handfuls of appetizers. Skip the wine coolers and hard lemonades, which are loaded with sugar calories. Use diet soda, diet tonic water, lower calorie mixes or a low-calorie beer. Limit to no more than two alcoholic beverages for the evening. (Try these 10 Cocktails with 150 Calories or Less)