One thing that many Americans are thankful for during the holidays is elastic waistbands. Many people feel helpless to prevent the pounds they pack on in just a matter of weeks. It starts with Halloween, then continues through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s day, and sometimes even Easter. Massive amounts of calories being consumed not just on the day of the holiday, but throughout the season at holiday parties, gatherings, and the endless consumption of leftovers. This article will provide some tips to help reduce or eliminate weight gain over the holidays.
Menu Planning: This is the best place to start and also the place where there is often the most resistance. For some reason people feel that every food you ever loved must be served. Consider (Gasp!) limiting the meal to just one starch. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are the biggest culprits to the ever-expanding holiday waistline. What about eliminating bread/rolls from the table? Will the world end if you didn’t serve mashed potatoes? What if you simply left the marshmallows and brown sugar off of the already sweet SWEET potatoes? Consider roasted sweet potatoes and beets as a healthier choice than simple spuds. Avoiding beige foods is usually a good start.
Serve in Courses: Many people overindulge simply because they eat their food so fast that their stomach literally doesn’t have time to send the “I’m satisfied” or “I’m full” signal to the brain. Routinely, by the time the mountain of food stacked on the platter is consumed, the first message sent to the brain is “I’m stuffed beyond capacity!” Serving in courses creates the time needed for the food to stretch the stomach enough to let the brain know that you should stop eating now. Start with a homemade soup and a mixed green salad (with beets and avocados would be fantastic), then move on to the main course.
Small Plates: Choose a smaller plate instead of a dinner plate or platter for your main course. Since you’ve already had soup and/or salad, you shouldn’t be as hungry and oftentimes people simply eat everything on their plate because it is there. Having a smaller plate results in less food being mounded on it and thus less food being consumed. Small forks also slow the consumption rate and thus allow for that signal from the stomach to the brain to be reached before you blow a gasket.
Buffet vs. Family Style: Having to get up to refill one’s plate is sometimes enough of an obstacle to limit portions to just one round.
One dessert: I’m not kidding when I tell you that my mother-in-law (who is awesome, and totally loved) will bake one pie for every person at the table. An entire pie for each person! Then there are several types of cookies and other treats as well. Consider serving just one dish for dessert and make only enough for each person to have a serving.
Skip the MSG: MSG sends a message to your brain that says “This is delicious!” which causes you to eat much more than you want to. Anything with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup (you know, that green bean casserole, etc.) is loaded with MSG and should be skipped entirely.
No leftovers: (insert thunderbolt here) Imagine not taking home a suitcase worth of leftovers? If you take a little meat or veggies, that’s not that big of a deal, but taking home more pie, cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. is not going to help you to get those pants buttoned in the morning.
Food is an important part of our culture. Sharing a meal in celebration is good for the spirit. But overconsumption is beyond unhealthy, it’s toxic. Celebrate the holidays. Be present in the moment. Savor your food and eat slowly and stop eating when you’re satisfied instead of when you can’t eat another bite. Focus more on the meaning of the holidays and the time with people who mean a lot to you.
Wishing you happy, healthy holidays!
The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prescribe for any disease or condition. Please consult your healthcare provider when making wellness choices.