10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

It’s that time of year again; time for family and friends, big celebrations and lots and lots of food!

Studies show that people gain the most weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and then struggle the rest of the year to take it off. If you are already overweight, it is even easier to gain weight this time of year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can maintain your weight during the holidays; you can even continue to lose! Don’t let the holidays be the reason you lose your progress: don’t let it derail the new lifestyle you’ve committed yourself to.

Here are 10 tips to keep you on track so you can wake up on New Year’s feeling ready for a new year!

Pick the Day or Meal You Will Indulge and Then Get Back On Track

Don’t just give yourself a free pass and eat whatever you want all day... then eat the leftovers the next day ... and so on. Decide which day, or better yet which meal you will allow yourself some indulgences.  Then get right back on track. If you end up overdoing it, do not beat yourself up and use it as license to quit. Forgive yourself and move on. Be grateful you have the ability to make better choices today and then do it.

Fill up on Good Company

People show love with food. It is part of community and family, and a huge part of our culture. Unfortunately it is usually done with sugar and carbs. The key is to be present with the ones you love. If they don’t understand why you aren’t eating everything you used to, just tell them you want to be around for a long time so you can keep enjoying their company.  If you were an alcoholic they wouldn't pressure you to drink. Ask for the same grace while you get your eating under control.

Fill Your Plate with Veggies and Good Protein/Fats...then Add One Carb

We all know how  it goes...big pile of mashed potatoes, a few rolls, the sweet potato casserole, Oops...no room for the salad.  Pick your veggies first. Fill your plate with salad and veggies, then your protein and then pick your favorite carb. Maybe no rolls and just the potatoes, or just a bite of each casserole after you eat your veggies.

Don’t Go in Starving

Prepare yourself for the onslaught of food and temptation by eating before you go. Get in your healthy fats and some veggies (for filling fiber) before you go, so that you go in already satisfied. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep yourself full.  You don’t have to “not eat” while you are there, but going in less hungry will help you make better decisions.

Bring Snacks and Desserts to Share

Bring a big plate of veggies and keto-ranch. A cheese plate with meats, or a sugar free dessert to share. Bring food that fits in your healthy lifestyle -- whether it is low salt, low carb, high fiber, etc.  Not only will you be sure to have some options for yourself, you can show your friends and family all the good food you can eat and maybe introduce them to a healthier lifestyle as well.

Don’t Drink all of Your Carbs and Calories

We tend to pack in the sugar and calories wherever we can during the holidays, especially in our drinks. You can partake in the occasional libation without spiking your blood glucose and throwing your inhibitions out the window.  If you aren’t sure what will be available, bring your own to share. A bottle of wine, a clear liquor with a flavored water and some lime juice. And then switch to a carbonated water, herbal tea or coffee.

Remember How You Feel

If you have been on plan for a while and have already seen results, try to remember how good you feel, how proud you are with your progress, and know it isn’t worth it to get off track.  Eating lots of sugar and carbs will leave you feeling bloated and tired, craving more the next day and that isn’t how you want to spend your holidays. When you are tempted to eat a big piece of pie, try to remember how much better you feel without it.  If you just got started and it doesn’t feel worth it, try to focus on how proud you are for getting started and know that this time next year you will be stronger and healthier for yourself and for your family.

Don’t Stop Exercising

When things are busy and family is all around we tend to get out of our routine. Make sure you keep making time to get up and move everyday. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, with kids home and family in town: then go on a family walk, or turn on some music and have a dance party. Just keep moving.  Not only will you feel better, but we tend to make better choices about food when we are exercising. If you overdo it and feel too full, get up and walk around the block or get up first thing the next day and start your day with exercise.

Dress Up

Wear something a little form fitting that you feel amazing in.  If you are feeling good about your progress then embrace it. If you are just starting out, then wear something a tiny bit tight that you hope will be loose in a few weeks. If you are wearing something form-fitting you are less likely to let yourself overeat.  Opt not to wear the loose pants until all the food is put away!

Be Grateful

There are myriads of stressors this time of year and you may have realized that the way you are used to treating that stress is with food.  Instead, think of food as the fuel that keeps you alive, healthy and present to the ones you love. When you are feeling discouraged and miss the comforts of your old lifestyle, stop and think of 3 things you are grateful for. Find your joy and your peace in the things that bring true lasting happiness and light to your life: your spouse, your children, music, nature, your friends, your home. These are the people and the reasons you want to live a long and healthy life; and they provide so much more than another cookie ever could.

Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Liao, MedThinTX@gmail.com. 972-566-2886