Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain from a Foodie

How a Dieter Keeps the Pounds Off Through the Holidays

Well, the most wonderful time of the year is half-way over – the holiday season, or the most difficult time of the year for those of us trying to loose weight and keep our eyes on the scale.

And, as you already have most likely experienced, there are so many great foods around — everywhere, every day, every moment.  All the parties, the wine, the cocktails, the cookies, the candies … I could go on and on and on.  For me as a foodie this is an amazing time of the year to express love through food but, also as a dieter — 25 lbs and two sizes down in 2011 BTW :-), it is a very hard time of year to stay focused on my weight loss goals.

You see, I love food.  Food is not just fuel to me – it is a way to express love, to share love and to share joy.

Some of my fondest memories in life surround food – I remember the taste and beauty of my grandma Montgomery’s lovingly iced cookies at Christmas, which remind me of everything I love about her.  I recall the joy of enjoying my mom’s homemade potato dumplings on a cold winter day (by cold I mean a chilly 50 degrees or so, it is Florida after all). I envelope myself in the joyful memories of cooking amazing holidays meals for my husband when we were dating.  I mark my travels by the amazing restaurants I visit. And, now, as a mother, I revel in the happiness that I receive in watching my daughter joyfully devour homemade Christmas cookies.

All in all, Food = Love for me. The act of creating and sharing homemade food is a tangible expression of love. However, indulging in those foods during the Holiday season could put me right where I was last January – sluggish, tired, way overweight and unhappy.

So, as I do with many things, I have sought out a method (e.g. some rules) to keep myself in check this holiday season and I wanted to share these with you in hopes these will give you some ways to prevent the holiday pounds from piling on. Especially over these next few weeks, the hardest temptation-avoiding weeks of the year …

A Foodie’s Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

  1. Keep Exercising: Yeah, there are late nights during the holidays and that morning workout alarm is tough.  But, you know, the more you work out the more energy you will have and the better you will feel. And if you are normally a night gym-goer or runner/walker, try moving your workout to the morning in order to keep your exercise from being scheduled out of your day with holiday parties and get-togethers. Just get up one hour earlier.  Tough? Yeah … but I promise it will pay off.
  2. Eat Homemade: So, yeah, we are all going to grab a cookie or treat here are there throughout the next three weeks. So, the baker and home cook in me implores you to eat the homemade item over the store-bought cookies, cakes, pies, etc.  Why? Those store bought items, especially if they were wrapped in some kind of sealed container, were made weeks (sometimes months) ago. And you know what? They have to pump those items full of stuff you can most likely not pronounce to keep them somewhat “fresh” — which is a bit scary don’t you think? So this year, when you reach for a treat, honor those bakers and candy makers that lovingly hand-crafted those treats. Yes, they used real butter and sugar and flour, but it is REAL, not manufactured … it is FRESH, not preserved. Real eating is better for your any time of the year.
  3. Sip Then Drink, Repeat: Cocktails and wine are everywhere in my world during the holidays.  What can I say? The Live Pretty crew enjoys a drink here and there. But I know, after doing the counting, that those drinks can pile up the calories in moments and make me even more hungry in the end.  So, when I am offered a holiday cocktail or glass of wine my method is to make sure I always sip the cocktail to make it last, then follow it with a nice drink of water.  That simple glass of water lessens what I drink at the party, dinner, etc. by giving me something to sip while I talk and enjoy.
  4. Eat Smart Two Meals a Day: It is so easy during the holiday season to give up and eat whatever you want.  But, that really has consequences.  So instead of throwing out the healthy diet all together, make sure that two of your three meals a day are smart, healthy and not overdone.  Now this does not mean that that third meal can be 1,000 calories and that your snacks can just be cookies, but it does allow you to enjoy some of that amazing holiday food in moderation. And if you are eating smart most of the day, it will be easier to keep your overall diet numbers closer to where you know they need to be.  Another trick here is to make sure those two meals are full of fiber and lean protein – whole grains, lean dairy and meats, tons of veggies and low carb fruit like berries and high fiber fruit like apples will keep you fuller longer, making you less hungry when that holiday meal comes around.
  5. Plan Your Snacks: It is so incredibly easy to grab tons of sugary and fatty stuff when you are hungry, so while planning your meals to a “T” each day during the holiday season may be hard, you should absolutely plan your snacks each day (2-3 total between meals). Pack a protein bar or nuts and some fruit in your bag.  Have some yogurt or protein shakes on hand to handle those last-minute hunger moments while running around.  Keep something good with you at all times so you will avoid reaching for the bad.
  6. Only Eat What You Love: I am a sucker for anything with caramel, chocolate, nuts and coconut on the sweet side, and brie, puff pastry, buttery seafood and stuffed anything on the savory side. Those are the things I L – O – V – E.  And those are the things I can not turn away.  (My stomach and heart will not let me). So when faced with a holiday food spread I only eat one serving of the things I love (mixed in with any fresh fruit, veggie or lean protein I can find on the table).  I know those candy cane, egg nog, bread and red meat calories are just not worth it to me.  They leave me unfulfilled in both my stomach and soul, so I leave them on the table.

Since Thanksgiving I have been able to keep the extra pounds off using these tips.  So I truly do hope they help you enter 2012 healthy and energized. In the end the holidays are an amazing time, one to be cherished not feared.  Enjoy!

Julia

 

 

 

Julia Montgomery Stewart

Nicknamed “Julia Child” at a young age, our own Julia is most at home in the kitchen. Lately, she has combined her culinary talents with a new hobby—fitness and healthy living. As a result, her recipes reflect an intriguing balance between eating well without sacrificing flavor. Outside the home, Julia is a consummate event planner, and spent the first ten years of her career as a publicist before expanding her portfolio of talents with the launch of Live Pretty in 2010. Balancing the busy demands of career and family, Julia lives with her husband and daughter in Orlando, Florida. In addition to her work in marketing, she serves a number of community organizations and initiatives in Central Florida.

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