Here come the holidays! Get ready to be surrounded by all kinds of tempting mouth pleasers. The neighbors bring over treats. You go to a party with your favorite fried appetizer. You’re out picking out a Christmas tree in the freezing cold and there’s a hot chocolate stand with creamers and add-ins right next to the entrance. And suddenly all your healthy goals are out the window. I wonder if losing weight would be such a popular New Year’s Resolution if the new year started in July?
Everyone tells themselves that this year is going to different, but it never is. Well I’m here to tell you that this one will! Because I’m here to tell you what years of experience with an overlarge sweet tooth have taught me. I’ve perfected the art of moderation (and then completely forgotten it and relearned it and forgotten it again. It’s a work in progress). And I’ll let you in on a little secret… YOU CAN STILL EAT ALL YOUR HOLIDAY FAVORITES! With these tips, you’ll not only stay true to your health goals, but also get to enjoy the best part about the Holidays… the food!
Here are five tips to help you curb the cravings and still have a great time:
1) Don’t Deprive Yourself
The fastest way to ruin your goals is to follow them too closely. Unless you have superhuman willpower, if you spend a week going to every party and resisting every treat your neighbors bring, you’re going to cave and binge. Now there’s a difference between depriving and refusing. If you get offered some yummy food and you can easily say, “Nah, I’m good,” DO IT. But if you say no and for the next 20 minutes that piece of pie is all you can think about, that’s not healthy or helpful. That’s where the next rule comes in handy...
2) The Last Bite Rule
My husband doesn’t like this one very much but it’s SUPER effective. When you eat a cookie, you taste it while it’s in your mouth, but once you swallow the last bite, it’s basically just a memory. So here’s the trick... make your first bite your last bite. One bite of a treat will not affect your weight or your goals. If the cookie is going to be just a memory anyway, you might as well make it a good memory by taking one bite and remembering how amazing your willpower was! And if you can remember how good it tasted, you won’t feel deprived, so you won’t cave and eat more than you should.
There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on the situation. If you are alone, take one bit and then throw the rest away before you’ve finished chewing. That way you won’t be tempted to take another bite once you’ve swallowed. Also, if you’re the type of person that really likes sweets, it might be helpful to chew slowly or take two tiny bites to help you feel more satisfied.
If you’re with someone, you have other options. This is why my husband doesn’t love this rule. You can choose not to take a treat and then take just one bite of your generous companion’s treat. Or if they aren’t down for that one, you can take a cookie for yourself, take a bite, and hand the rest to whoever you’re with—although depending on the person, you sometimes have to warn them beforehand, “I’m going to get a cookie and I’m going to take one bite and give the rest to you.” Otherwise, they refuse to eat it and then it’s too tempting. Trust me, I have experience with this.
3) Fill up on the good stuff
Repeat after me, I will not go to a party hungry. I will not go grocery shopping hungry. I will not bake cookies for the neighbors hungry. Hunger is the enemy of all health goals. So don’t let yourself get hungry when you know you’re going to be facing temptations. That’s just asking for trouble. If you are going to a party, prepare beforehand. Eat a healthy meal or snack before you get there so that you can easily resist the unhealthy appetizers or treats. Once you get to the party or Thanksgiving dinner, start off by eating the good stuff. Load up your plate with the salads and the green beans and the Turkey. Start with that, get mostly full, and then fill up with a few bites of the guilty pleasure that are no longer guilty.
4) Make it hard on yourself
Never never never sit in front of a plate of cookies. Never plop down in front of the TV with a bowl of caramel popcorn. You think you’ll stop after the first cookie or the first handful, but you won’t. Instead, take how much you actually want to eat according to your goals and then put the rest away. And I mean put it away. Don’t just put the Saran wrap back over it. That’s too easy. Make it so hard on yourself to take another serving that you have enough time to rethink your decision. Put the saran wrap back, put it in the pantry, and go downstairs. Or if you’re at a party, serve yourself a small plate and then pass the bowl or walk away from the table. If you make it hard on yourself to break your goals, chances are.. You won’t.
5) Eat mindfully
When you’re having trouble resisting a craving, it’s usually because your tongue or your stomach is doing the thinking. When you feel a craving, take a step back and think. Here are some helpful tips for eating mindfully:
Remember your goals and why you’re trying to resist: “I want to look good in that New Year’s Eve dress.” “I don’t want to eat this toffee that Mrs. Davis made because I’m going to the Robinson’s party tonight and I’d rather eat her famous cream puffs.”
Remember how eating too much unhealthy food makes you feel emotionally “If I eat this cream puff, I’ll be happy for about 30 seconds and then I’ll feel disappointed that I broke my goals again.” “
Remember how eating too much unhealthy food makes you feel physically “The last time I ate a sugar cookie, it gave me a headache for the next hour.” “Every time I eat greasy food, I feel sick all night.”
If you remember these 5 tips, the Holidays will be just as fun as they were last year, but you’ll come out of them without the extra 5 pounds.