It's that time of year again when our calendars fill up with luncheons, dinner parties, get-togethers and boxes of chocolates begin to magically appear in staff rooms everywhere. Just so happens I'll be attending my first Christmas party of the season next Saturday night. Let's face it, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the perfect storm of food, indulgence and weight gain all wrapped up like no other time of year. So if your winter is once again forecasting holiday weight gain followed by the same old New Year's weight loss resolution, it's time to break the cycle and burn a little fat and keep those Christmas cookies from going straight to you waist.
Typically, once the Thanksgiving feasting begins, and because the end of the year is so close and crammed with parties, intentional dining is often replaced by spontaneous BLT's (bites, licks, tastes) and indulgence is elevated to a whole new level. With Christmas parties in full swing by mid-November, treat-eating begins to gather momentum and picks up speed, much like a snowball rolling downhill. This food free-for-all, accepted and dismissed by most as “...it's only once a year..” leaves many people with an extra 10 to 15 pounds around the middle by the time the New Year rolls around. What many people don't realize, is that by following these five, simple tips they can actually keep their weight stable and still enjoy the festivities without developing a snowman's waistline.
Never arrive hungry. Having a small, PFC (protein, fat, carb) balanced portion at home before attending a party prevents that starving feeling that causes us to reach for those quick, processed foods just to fill the gap. Ever find yourself stationed at the chip bowl and wondering how you ate so many without even noticing? Downing a protein shake before leaving the house or even having just half of a protein bar in the car before entering the party will go a long way to keeping your blood sugar stable. And when blood sugar is stable, you are better able to think clearly and make good choices instead of mindlessly munching.
Always pair alcohol with food. If you choose to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, think of it as a starchy carbohydrate and balance that out with your protein and fat. Wine with a dinner of grilled salmon (protein and fat), salad (leafy greens are free) and steamed veggies (very low carb) is a great balance that keeps your body on track to burn fat, not store it. If alcohol is served alone and not with a meal, like at a cocktail party, look for a bowl of nuts (fat) or charcuterie platter with meat (protein) and cheese (fat) to enjoy along with your wine. Even though the balance may not be as good as a dinner, it will help prevent the carb spike and subsequent fat storage that results from drinking alcohol on it's own. Alternatively, downing a protein shake on the way to the event will also do the trick and allow you to mingle and sip without having to source out a protein source to go with it.
Be choosey. When dessert is presented, be discerning and choose one that is either your absolute favourite, or is something you have really wanted to try. Recent studies have shown that when we indulge in something and truly savour it, we are satisfied with a much smaller portion. And when we are satisfied with our indulgence, we are far less likely to view the dessert tray as a challenge, sampling as many treats as possible using the “it's only once a year...” rationale as an excuse. Trust me, you will thoroughly enjoy and savour the treat that you consciously search out and look forward to. And you'll enjoy it even more when you're not, once again, looking to lose 10 to 15 pounds come January 1.
Offer to bring something. Whether you have just begun your weight loss journey, or have been living the program for some time, knowing there will be food options that work with where you are in your journey can literally mean the difference between success and failure for most people.
Enjoy the holidays! Whether it's office parties or Christmas dinner with the family, they are each only one meal happening on one day. So whether you choose to stick to your health plan or decide to make it an “off-plan” meal, make sure you enjoy it. Do not feel guilty because in three hours you're back on plan with PFCs. It's just that simple.
By adopting these five simple steps and applying the PFC principles whenever your health starts to snowball, you will find gaining weight over the holiday season, or any season for that matter, is no longer an issue.
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