Fall, the grand opening of the holiday season, is when all the best food makes an appearance.
Summer is great and all, but when the cold weather sets in, there’s something wonderful about the idea of layering on your favorite sweater and indulging in all your favorite holiday treats. It takes real effort for me to not whip up a giant batch of cookies every week…or eat a plateful of them at every party.
And there are tons of parties to attend, not to mention stacks of food in the office and holiday meals to prep for. It’s hard to lose weight when bowls of candy are literally being passed under your nose. I love getting to eat my favorite foods, but the constant temptation to go off-plan is draining.
So can you enjoy the holidays and still lose weight? Yes. Unequivocally, yes.
Outside of Actual Holidays or Party Days, Stick to The Deficit
Your very first line of defense is a commitment to stick to your plan and maintain your deficit. This time of year, there’s a lot of peer pressure to use the holidays as an excuse to go completely off the rails (“Live a little!”), as if the holidays are a get out of jail free card. Um, feel free to tell those people that gaining weight this time of year will affect you exactly the same way as gaining weight any other time of year.
Speaking as someone who’s been there, abandoning your goals in the name of gluttony won’t make you feel as good as you think it will. Forget getting a beer belly — one year, I straight up had an eggnog belly. It was not pretty.
Keeping the momentum you’ve been building for yourself will pay off when January rolls around. Even if you end up going hog-wild and stuffing yourself until you look like Violet Beauregarde on Thanksgiving and Christmas, you still won’t do as much damage as two full months of eating whatever you want.
Try to keep your schedule and habits as normal as possible and remember that you can still fit treats into your deficit. Asceticism is not required (or even recommended). Which brings me to my next point…
Stop Eating Mediocre Food
A huge part of the problem is that not only is there a ton of holiday food floating around, it’s free. And there’s something that makes food extra special when it’s free. It’d be criminal not to take advantage of it! Right?
Guys, we have got to stop eating food just because it’s there.
Evaluate the quality of the food you’re being offered. Is it something you absolutely love? Is it worth working into your calorie allotment for the day? If not, then don’t eat it.
And skip the stuff you can get anytime. Save your calories for the food you can only enjoy this time of year.
Your Holiday or Party Strategy
It’s the day of the party! I’m assuming that you’re meeting a bunch of other people, you aren’t entirely in charge of the food, and you aren’t interested in losing weight today. You want to relax and enjoy yourself but not overdo it. If that sounds about right, here’s what you should do.
- Earlier in the day, eat lightly and sensibly. Don’t arrive starving, or you’ll be more likely to Hulk Smash the buffet table.
- If you’re worried about finding something to eat that won’t derail your goals too much, go ahead and bring a dish to the party. The host won’t mind.
- When it comes time to eat, pause before you grab a plate. Walk around the table and look at all your options. What looks really good to you? Mentally earmark the dishes you’re genuinely excited about and prioritize them at the top of your list. What could you skip? Mentally discard the dishes you don’t want to eat. Got that? Now you can make a plate.
- Keep your servings small so that if you end up not liking something, you haven’t wasted a big portion of it. You can always go back for seconds for the stuff you like.
- Don’t forget to keep an eye on how much you drink. Liquid calories are so sneaky.
- Don’t stuff yourself. Eating until you feel like you’re about to burst is seriously overrated. And if you really want to feel great, eat until you’re only 80% full.
Don’t Freak Out If You Go Overboard
This is the most important thing. If you do slip up this year, don’t beat yourself up about it. So you went a little overboard. So what? Which do you think matters more in the long run — this one slip up or the hundreds of other times you ate what you were supposed to? Yup, the latter. You don’t need to be perfect to succeed. You just need to be persistent.
How About You?
Are you excited about the holidays or dreading them? What are your strategies for this time of year?