Enjoy Holiday Meals Without Weight Gain or Guilt

21 12 2014

It’s that time of year again. What will be your New Years Resolution?

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 some food management and modified behavioral habit tips that may help alleviate fears of eating your traditional Holiday meals without gaining weight.

These tips may help you resist the temptation to overeat foods craved at this time of year.  I’m sharing a “no weight gain strategy” I’ve provided past clients and have helped to keep weight off within a 48 hour window of time and longer.  Although most didn’t lose weight… they didn’t gain any either.

It was through a diet consulting session a client asked if I could create a work around food strategy so they could eat their favorite foods during the Holidays.  And without derailing a weight loss diet plan.  Of course I told them there’s always a risk of falling back into a bad food habit when you eat rich foods.  But for this individual it was worth the risk to enjoy a good Christmas meal with family and not fear losing control over foods and body weight.

For some, it’s almost as if we have to harden the body for the rigors of war because of all the tempting food nemesis 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 to remove the excess food fuel from it.  Instead, our metabolisms get very efficient at storing body fat weight.  It is also true during the Holidays we all have a tendency to over indulge and then continue this pattern through the New Year.

We all know excess body fat has a direct correlation to poor health conditions and disease.  Some of the better know diseases directly related to obesity for example are diabetes, atherosclerosis, congenital heart failure, weight bearing joint pain, etc.

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’ll provide the same client tips to help you modify food habits in a way to enjoy a tasty meal in good company without fear of weight gain.  And quite possibly this may be a habit changing plan to supplement  your continued weight loss effort during the New Year.

But the tips alone may not be enough to meet your ultimate weight loss goal.  Since weight loss, health condition, medical history and fitness levels are all interrelated it is advised you seek a medical doctors consultation if you have a serious obesity or health problem.  These food strategy tips will not help if you are in poor health, have substance abuse problems, obsessive compulsive tendencies and/or carry excessive body weight.


A Time to Celebrate With Family

I’m no different than you with regard to all the tempting 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 management strategy is the best deterrent to minimize an uptick in body fat weight you don’t want.

There are many reasons one may over consume foods daily [stressful environment,  compulsive behaviors, bad relationships and depression to name a few].    However when over consumption occurs frequently, the body tends to accept this habit as the norm.  Hence a new habit of overeating is formed and weight gain is inevitable for most of us.

The fact is as you age the body simply doesn’t require the excess calories it once needed during the developmental 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 requirement is to cut out excessive calories and participate in some form of low stress aerobic exercise 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, medical conditions, genetics, etc.,  I can’t predict or provide a one fit “hold the weight” solution that will work for everyone for a few days.  Especially when I know the program was designed and worked for a few client types that wanted to indulge during the Holidays without experiencing weight gain.  But since I know these tips can work through short-term modification of food behavior and habit it’s worth sharing because it can work for you.  Especially if your the type that has enough “will power” to apply a short term off-the-wagon dietary strategy to self control within the 8-Tip Holiday Meal Plan guidelines below.

Can this food tips strategy work long term?  Yes I believe it can for certain individuals.  But determining each individuals fitness and weight loss goal nuances, habits and behaviors within environment etc., is best accomplished through 1:1 professional consulting services that make these connections and provide relatable  information  that resonate with clients.   Personalized fitness programming with a safe weight loss long-term strategy has the best chance to succeed when unique lifestyles are analyzed and prescribed relative to the individual.

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 that most of us can only dream about.  For others, to help reduce calorie consumption during the Holidays, My 8 tip Holiday Meal Plan plan may be of some assistance.

Best Time Ever

Best Time Ever

Now, let’s get to the meat of what you’ve been waiting for. Here are the tips clients and I have used to minimize weight gain during the Holidays.  If you take this 8-Tip Holiday Meal Plan to heart and apply it, it can work for you short and possibly long term.

Tip#1Never!  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 feeding frenzy seems to be ingrained within the American 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 your stomach will not be empty for the next 4-6 hours after each meal depending on metabolism.  This digestive function varies within 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 and you just won’t want to eat as much.

Tip#2Never!  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?  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 made of over consumption is easy to understand here, eat and drink like Vikings… No pain… Much 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#3Drink 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.  Plus, water will make you feel fuller faster.

Tip#4Do not stay at the dinner table after eating for further conversation.

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 strategy that advises one to move away from the table and out of the kitchen after the meal.

Tip 5#Take your first serving, after you consume this wait 20 minutes before you think about seconds.

Take at least 20 minutes and enjoy the meal before you even think about seconds.

“Seconds is not recommended.”  This will be the hardest part of the meal plan.   It takes your brain approximately 20 minutes 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 1/4 the plate diameter.  And no piling on.

Tip#6Never!  I repeat Never!  Eat desert after you’ve eaten your meal.

This will only add insult to injury.  Your body simply is not designed to handle this mass assault without consequences, especially if you’ve achieved fullness after eating the main meal.  Wait 1 hour to see how your body processes the feeling of fullness.  If you experience a feeling of satiety after a period of time then do enjoy some dessert.  But if you begin to experience fullness again back off.

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 stimulates and addicts some to a continued and similar eating patterns for months.  And thereafter another 10 pounds is added to body weight.

Tip#8Don’t quit your exercise program during the Holiday season.


Marc prepares for the Holiday festivities with family. A time of Year to reflect and be thankful for all we have.

This is very important!  When you consume excess calories on “any day,” you will need to assist the body in removing the unspent food fuel.   I highly recommend a daily walking program, or other Low-Impact aerobic activity at least 30 minutes daily.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a few tips you can relate to and apply this Holiday season.  You’ve now learned how it’s possible to embrace Holiday foods without guilt and doesn’t’ compromise taste buds or the social meal experience with family.  And best of all, if taken seriously and applied correctly, you won’t gain any weight.

Many can enjoy tasty meals during the Holidays without gaining weight when a reasonable food consumption plan is known in advance to help modify traditional Holiday food habits.

Please have a wonderful Holiday season with family and friends and don’t let your food fears and weight loss diet plans compromise having a great meal experience with loved ones.  Plan, prepare and participate in the spirit of the Holidays, you’ll be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ANG, MSC CPT RET.  2014 MirrorAthlete® Copyright,  All rights reserved.  Sign up for your free monthly eNewsletter.



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