Updated, 17 December 2016 Marc Woodard
I can’t believe how fast the end of year Holidays roll upon us. And for some it can be a stressful time. Especially if you have a hard time managing body weight.
I have an 8-Tip Holiday Meal Plan that may alleviate fears of eating your favorite traditional Holiday meals and without gaining weight.
These tips can help many resist the temptation to overeat during this time of year. I’m sharing a “no weight gain strategy.” This strategy has helped past clients stay on weight loss target. Admittedly most didn’t lose weight… however most didn’t gain any either. And some even shed a few pounds by applying all 8 tips below.
Back History on the 8-Tip Holiday Meal Plan – I was asked during a client consult if I could create a work around food strategy. One that allowed someone to eat favorite foods during the Holidays without derailing a current weight loss plan.
Of course I told the young lady there’s always a risk of falling back into a bad food habit when overeating hyper-palatable foods. But for this individual it was worth the risk to modify the current diet plan. That is to enjoy a traditional Christmas meal with family and not fear losing control over foods and body weight. Prior to this request she had avoided all Holiday meals in fear of weight gain. And now doesn’t want to avoid them any more. After applying the 8 tip program she acknowledged the following results. There was no weight gain and she continued to stay on weight loss target for the following Year.
For some, it’s almost as if we have to harden the body for the rigors of war because of all the food temptations in front of us. The smells and tastes are enough to drive anyone crazy and want to go on a food binge.
The worse part of consuming too many calories in a day, as we age our body’s metabolisms become less efficient at processing the excess. Instead the metabolism gets very efficient at storing body fat weight. It is also true during the Holidays most have a tendency to over indulge and then continue this pattern the following Year.
I also understand some of you have had tremendous success in melting the pounds away last year as you stuck to your new year’s weight loss resolution commitment.
Congratulation to you!
For those still struggling to lose weight don’t give up! I’m sharing the same client tips I know can work for you. And quite possibly may be habit changing enough to incorporate into your current weight loss program.
However the tips alone may not be enough to meet your ultimate weight loss goal. Whereas ill-health conditions warrant medical doctor advisement prior to changing a daily routine. The point being these food strategy tips will not help if you are in poor health, have substance abuse problems, personality disorder, e.g., obsessive compulsive tendencies, etc., and/or carry excessive body weight and grossly obese. Moving on…
I’m no different than anyone else with regard to foods during the Holidays. I’m greatly tempted to eat more than I need. However, awareness of our food habit weaknesses combined with a food plan strategy is the best deterrent to minimize an uptick in body fat weight during the Holiday season.
The fact is as you age the body simply doesn’t require the excess calories it once needed during the developmental and active adult years. This does not mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. For the most part you can consume a selection of your choosing. Your only real requirements are to follow the satiety suggestions below, reduce over processed food consumption and don’t eat or drink your calories after 8pm. And participate in some form of low stress aerobic exercise activity daily [i.e., walking, biking, hiking, jogging, dancing, yard work, rowing, cross country ski, swimming, etc.].
Since everyone’s metabolism is different due to age, sex, health and medical condition, genetics, etc., I can’t predict or provide a one fit “hold the body weight line” solution that will work for everyone. Especially when I know the program below was designed and worked for a few client types that wanted to indulge during the Holidays without experiencing weight gain.
However I do know these tips are worth sharing because they can be advantageous for you. Especially if your the type of individual that has the will power to continue a healthy habit food course after partaking in an infrequent celebration or Holiday meal.
Can this 8-Tip Holiday Meal Plan strategy work long term? Yes I believe it can for certain individuals. But determining each individuals commitment to a successful weight loss goal and plan is best accomplished through 1:1 consulting services where information sharing is a two-way street and the program is relative to individual needs and wants.
For those of you that are disciplined enough to pace yourself and turn off the feeding frenzy… My hats off to you! You have will power most of us can only dream about. For others, to help reduce calorie consumption during the Holidays my 8 Tip Holiday Meal Plan may be of consequence.
If you take this 8 Tip Holiday Meal Plan to heart and apply parts of it or the whole, it can work short and possibly long term.
Tip#1 – Never! I repeat Never! Go to your mother, mother-in-laws, or Grandmothers home for Holiday meals hungry!
The habit of starving ourselves in preparedness for the Holiday meal seems to be ingrained within the American spirit and culture. I know my family like so many others during the Holidays have repeated this ritual. It’s no wonder we can’t stop ourselves. Before you know it, we’re all lying around like beached whales on a lido deck with “Hot… Hot… Hot,” playing in the background. So, it stands to reason, you must eat a normal meal not less than 2-3 hours before you go over for a Holiday meal.
The way our digestion system processes food after a meal, the stomach will not be empty for the next 4-6 hours depending on metabolism. This digestive function varies with each one of us.
I don’t suggest being selective when choosing Holiday foods. Just serve the foods you want to eat and don’t over load your plate. The point is when you get to the table you won’t be as hungry or want to eat as much.
Tip#2 – Never! I repeat Never! Drink alcohol prior to going into the meal.
You don’t drink and drive do you? Well, what makes you think you could drink and consume without injury to your body prior to sitting for the meal? Although I’m being facetious, I’m also serious in the way I want to make my point. Alcohol is a depressant, pain killer, relaxant, taste intensifier and social inhibitor. The point is easy to understand here, eat and drink like Vikings… No pain equates to much inhibited calorie gain!
Limit yourself to two 8oz glasses of cheer after the meal (your choice). Remember alcohol also contains calories that add up fast.
Tip#3 – Drink plenty of water throughout the day when attending Holiday meals.
Water is a natural solvent, absorbs well in the stomach and intestinal lining assisting the body’s digestive system to process food intake more efficiently and that means less calories stored as fat. Plus, water will make you feel full faster and has no calories.
Tip#4 – Do not stay at the dinner table after eating.
This is where most of us fall prey to over eating indulgences. It is very difficult to resist picking at the Holiday turkey, cranberry, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pies, olives, sipping on Champaign… “Ohhhhhh the dressing and gravy… Give me a break! I’m dying here. I think I just made myself hungry.”
See how hard this is and I’m supposed to be giving you advice. Look, I never said I wasn’t human, or this would be easy. More so the reason to have a pre-meal battle plan strategy that moves one away from the table and out of the kitchen after the meal.
Tip 5# – Take your first serving. After you consume it wait 20 minutes before you think about seconds.
Take at least 20 minutes and enjoy the meal. “Seconds is not recommended.” This will be the hardest part of the meal plan. It takes your brain approximately this much time to register whether you’ve eaten enough or not.
Focus on satiety not a feeling of fullness. But if you do decide you can’t resist a second helping focus on a favorite serving that doesn’t take up more than 1/2 the plate diameter. And no piling food on the plate. Focus on 50% less than what you’d normally put on the plate for 1st’s and 2nd’s.
Tip#6 – Never! I repeat Never! Eat dessert after you’ve eaten your meal.
This will only add insult to injury. Your body simply is not designed to handle this mass blood sugar spike without consequence, especially if you’ve achieved satiety after eating the main meal. Wait 1 hour to see how your body processes the feeling of what you ate. If you experience a feeling of satiety and not overfull after a period of time then do enjoy some dessert. While eating dessert take your time to gage feeling of gut comfort. But if you begin to experience the feeling of near full, back off and leave the remaining portion of dessert.
Tip#7 – Never! I repeat never! Take home left over’s.
This can set you up for failure early on into the New Year. Simply by continuing to eat these foods addicts some to a similar eating pattern for months. And thereafter another 10 pounds can be added quickly.
Tip#8 – Don’t quit your exercise program during the Holidays.
This is very important! When you consume excess calories on “any day,” you will need to mobilize the body to remove the unspent fat fuel. I highly recommend a daily walking program, or other Low-Impact aerobic activity at least 30 minutes daily.
You’ve now learned how it’s possible to embrace Holiday foods that don’t compromise the meal experience or add guilt. And best of all when applied with conviction you won’t gain weight. You may be surprised and even lose a little.
Have a wonderful Holiday season with family and friends and don’t let your food fears and weight loss plans prevent a great meal experience with loved ones.
Plan, prepare and participate in the spirit of the Holidays without fear of being around the foods you love to eat. You’ll be glad you did.
MirrorAthlete wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2016 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.