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Does this sound like you? You’re getting a little nervous because the holiday season is fast approaching and you still have that spare tyre from last year. Not putting on any weight over the next few weeks is about as likely as Ryan Gosling giving you a call to invite you out for Chrismas drinks with him and his mates.
Buying new clothes every year is putting a serious dent in your budget and your partner just remarked that he totally appreciates that there is so much more of you to love now than when he first met you. The cheek!
Your last resort is to move to Yemen where Christmas isn’t celebrated and swilling whiskey is forbidden.
Before you start headscarf shopping first try some of these suggestions to help avoid the holiday weight gain this year.
Estrogen affects how our bodies respond to insulin. So when we enter midlife the inevitable drop in estrogen makes us less sensitive to insuling so almost all the carbs we eat turn to fat.
Especially the type of carbs that make their way onto your plate in spades during the holidays.
In midlife the fat that comes from too many carbs generally pools around your middle as viseral fat.
Visceral fat is dangerous.
What Causes Weight Gain Over The Holiday Season?
Let’s make this simple.. Exactly what is it that will cause you to put on too much weight over the holidays? That’s a rhetorical question. We know what it is, right?
- Added sugar
- Unhealthy carb ladened foods
- Not enough sleep
- Forgoing your usual exercise routine
Whether it’s the holidays or not these things will see a steady midlife weight gain.
So how about we adopt some strategies around each of these areas.
If you can make them habits, all the better.
Here are my tips on how to keep clear of or at least cut down on each of those things that can contribute to your spare tyre.
Strategies to avoid holiday weight gain
1. Don’t try to lose weight over the holidays
Instead aim for weight maintenance and consider waiting until the New Year if you feel the need to drop some kilos. See if you can keep up with your exercise regime or maybe switch up some of the activites to ones that will include the family. A backyard game of soccer, badminton, cricket, beating Uncle Frank at the 100 yard dash. Anything that has you moving is counted.
2. Be okay with waiting
Waiting until the New Year to get back on or resume your weight loss program is not a losing action. It’s sensible.
3. Be mindful of what you eat
Be mindful of the food choices you make but do so without judgement.
Also be thoughtful about how you eat. Try to chew at least 20 times and give yourself plenty of time to finish the meal.
Think about what you eat. Without the judgement but with thoughtfulness about if its nutritious and healthy. You might find yourself making better choices without really trying.
Turn off the cravings that lead to weight gain
1. Stay hydrated
Your brain sometimes mistakes thirst for hunger so if your feeling like demolishing some empty carbs in the form of half a leftover pavlova that you’ve been hiding in the back of the fridge, try a glass of water first. At the very least you will dampen those cravings and maybe only have a few bites. I have a glass or bottle of water with me and if my thoughts turn to food I take a sip. It works a little like a pattern interrupt.
If you are have a few drinks try drinking a glass of water between drinks. It will slow you down and help you dodge a possible hangover. Make it sparkling with a squeeze of lime so that you can feel just a little bit special.
2. Get plenty of sleep
Besides starting to take on the appearance of a zoombie, lack of sleep will also switch on your hunger hormone. And the cravings will be for high carb junkfood. So make sure to leave parties a little earlier and get to bed.
You will feel better for it the next day.
When you are well rested you’ll find it easier to keep your calm in stressful situations and you are more likely to make healthier more nutritious food choices.
Make Healthier Eating and Drinking Choices
1. Avoid high sugar mixers
Try and keep to beer, wine or cocktails with no sugar added.
Try a good quality chilled vodka with lime juice a heap of ice and some liquid drops of stevia for a little bit of sweetness. If you want a longer drink add sparkling water. It is seriously delicious and I dare you to stop at one.
2. Avoid carb filled desserts
They’ll make you want to reach for a packet of chips in a few hours.
- Fill up on a healthy dish during the main course, fibrous vegetables, good fats such as avocado and olive oil and a little protein. Indulge in some good cheese on top of a slice of cucumber or radish as a treat. I actually carry cucumber and radish slices with me for just such occasions.
- Go for lighter desserts like fruit salad or sorbet with berries or mint leaves. It will be much lower in sugar and do a better job of satisfying your sweet tooth.
- A cheese and fruit platter is a great idea.
3. Be careful of too many sweet treats
You know the massive slices of gateaux, Lindor chocolates, truffles that look like cute Christmas puds, slices of pie or Christmas pudding. These are high calorie foods with no place in a healthy diet. Allow yourself just a small slice to indulge the festive season. Try plain nuts or your own homemade bliss balls, perhaps even some dark chocolate.
You’ll notice your sweet tooth calms down over time and you begin to lose the taste for these kinds of treats.
4. Do you really need those nibblies?
Crackers with pate, or those nuts? How about some vegetable sticks with home made hummus or tzatziki.
5. Stick to low carbohydrate and low alcoholic wines and beers
There is a good range and some of it is pretty decent. You won’t feel like you’re missing out.
How about mocktails? This is a growing trend, I see very cool bars popping up everywhere that don’t serve alcohol.
Mocktails are a really good idea and you will be saving yourself the calories and carbs if you choose low sugar or sugar free options.
Simply mix some sparkling water with lime juice, fresh mint leaves and a few drops of stevia to taste depending on your preference for sweetness.
A great option is to make up a pitcherful in advance to keep chilled for your guests.
6. If eating out
Check out the menu before you go and make sure that there are at least a couple of low carbohydrate options, or better still choose something from the seafood section.
7. Consider Guilt free snacks
- You can’t go wrong with a small portion of caviar, smoked salmon or top quality ham on a crisp slice of cucumber or a seed cracker.
- If you are feeling a little less posh then how about some crispy fried prosciutto? Just heat up your frying pan and dry fry the prosciutto until it’s crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. It has a perfect salty crunchy texture.
- Then there are olives, pickles and artichokes stuffed with tasty things like blue cheese or garlic.
- Try some large green pitted olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes in oil. Or little cocktail tomatoes filled with herbed goat’s cheese.
Whatever you do go easy on the bread though.
8. Eat before you go out
If you are going to a dinner party and you know it will be a while before the real food appears eat a healthy snack before you go.
This will save you snacking on those empty calorie snacks. Especially the chips. They are the number one cause of weight gain in the US.
If it is a party with just nibbly food then the same goes. Eat a healthy meal before you go and stick to the healthy nibbles. Prawns, olives, vegetables with a low carb dip, nuts and fruit are all good choices.
9. Mind your portions
Especially when its self serve. Maybe choose a side plate, and when you’ve finished that give it time to reach your tummy before going back for more.
If the function is casual take your own food along. Hosts will be thankful that they don’t have the worry of providing something different.
If it’s an organised meal at a function ring the organisers with plenty of notice and explain what you need. Most kitchens are happy to oblige.
10. How about making some of your own low carb delicious treats
Try this for a spectacular treat:-
Don’t stop your usual healthy routine
I can’t say enough about this one but it really can take a back seat at this time of year. It’s such a powerful, simple and affordable way to get your weight under control and keep it that way.
Keep up your exercises or switch them up for some new favourites if you need to. I am partial to stationary bikes myself because you can read or watch your show while getting fit.
You could try a nice walk in the neighbourhood with your family, a bike ride, a local hike discovering new places, a game of frisbee, a back yard game of soccer.
Anything that gets you moving is better than not moving at all.
So enjoy the so avoid weight gain in the holiday season safe and feel good in the knowledge that those jeans will still fit you next year.
Do you have any tips for weight management at this time of year? Let me know in the comments.