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15 ways to minimise holiday weight gain

Keeping your diet and health intact can be difficult at the best of times, but the holiday season brings about a whole host of new challenges.

From parties to family gatherings, work events or Christmas markets, we are surrounded by temptation, with over eating and excessive drinking playing a central role in these festivities.

We tend to use this time of year as an excuse to justify our actions, but that overindulgence can quickly take its toll on our waistline. This in turn can lead to that end of December slump, as the weight gain creeps up and far-fetched new year’s resolutions start to set in.

Sure, this is a time to unwind, relax, and take a break from the stresses of everyday life, but with a little thought and planning you can do so while minimising the damage.

Below are my top 15 tips to keep weight gain under control this holiday season.

1) Don’t go to parties hungry

Instead aim to have a small healthy snack beforehand (such as some Greek yoghurt) to help partially fill you up so that you are less likely to go overboard on the buffet or snacks. On days you will be eating huge amounts, aim for a light salad lunch and high fibre breakfast.

2) If you do overindulge at one meal, don’t stress about it

Mentally feeling guilty about your actions can lead to a further attitude of ‘screw it’ and continuing to binge eat. So instead if you go over the top, just get back on track for your next meal.

3) Watch your portion sizes

Sure, enjoy that piece of cake, hot chocolate or dessert, but make sure you practice proper portion control and be more mindful about what you are eating. Moderation is always the key, so be mindful about your decisions. Do you want more because you are hungry? Or simply because there’s food available on demand? There’s nothing wrong with splitting that piece of cake or pie with someone else!

4) Don’t drink your calories!

Calories in alcohol and soft drinks quickly add up, especially when combined with excessive food as well. With the cold not much beats a baileys hot chocolate this time of year, but one shot contains 130 calories! Instead try and alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water.

5) Stay hydrated

It’s easy to confuse feelings of thirst with hunger, so by staying properly hydrated you can help avoid snacking while reducing cravings.

6) Drink a glass or two of water before meals

Feeling of fullness can be linked to volume consumed, so by drinking some water 15 minutes before a meal you can partially fill your stomach, while also making sure you aren’t thirsty.

7) Eat slowly

Make sure you pace yourself at meals and enjoy them for what they are. It’s not a race to finish and it can take 20 minutes for your stomach to send signals to your brain that you are full, meaning eating too fast can often lead to overeating. With that in mind, also wait 30 minutes before deciding if you want more.

8) Use a smaller plate

This will help you control the amount you dish up, also having the knock-on effect of your brain estimating a larger volume of food, due to the plate being smaller.

9) Don’t go back for seconds

In all you can eat situations set yourself a rule that you won’t go back for seconds and if you desperately want more, only go for additional vegetables, fruit or salad.

10) Limit the sides

Side dishes and dressings are usually high in calories so try filling most of your plate with lean proteins or vegetables. If you are having multiple courses and drinking try and reduce calories by eating turkey without the skin, limiting the amount of fat in gravy and opting for lighter dressings.

10) Limit the sides

Side dishes and dressings are usually high in calories so try filling most of your plate with lean proteins or vegetables. If you are having multiple courses and drinking try and reduce calories by eating turkey without the skin, limiting the amount of fat in gravy and opting for lighter dressings.

11) Be picky with what you indulge in

Just because there’s food or snacks on hand doesn’t mean you have to eat them. Often in these situations we consume what’s around just because it’s there, even if we don’t overly enjoy it. So aim to only eat your favourites and pass on the rest, trying to stick to treats that are special to this time of year and avoiding what you can have all the time anyway.

12) Stay away from the bar and food tables

You are far more likely to snack when surrounded by temptation, making the old saying of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ especially true. Avoid standing near or around the bar or food if possible so it’s not constantly catching your eye.

13) Browse self-service lanes before dishing up

Rather than acting on impulse, instead have a look what’s available so you can decide before hand what you actually want.

14) Make sure you get enough sleep

Numerous studies have linked a lack of sleep to excess eating. In fact, in 2012 a study by the Mayo Clinic found that people who got 80 minutes less sleep than usual consumed on average an extra 550 calories on the following day!

15) Make time for exercise

I know, when you’re enjoying yourself finding the motivation to be active often drops to the bottom of the priority list. But make sure you schedule time to move as much as you can. If you don’t want to hit up the gym, then plan some family walks or days out.

Anything else?

These are just a few strategies you can use to keep the weight gain under control this year, meaning you can enjoy yourself while still focusing on your health.

If however you slip up then don’t over think it, and just make sure that you get back on track as soon as you can.

Don’t however take that as me saying you should set some crazy new year’s resolutions based around huge grand gestures or overhauling everything at once. The reality is 90% of these resolutions don’t last as they are short term fixes to what are long term problems, and not evenly remotely maintainable long term.

Improving your health is all about slow gradual change and earlier this year I ran a free 7 day ‘stop dieting, start living’ challenge to show people exactly how to get started.

The average weight loss within this week was 2-6 pounds, with participants losing upwards of 10 pounds the following week.

Due to the success of the first challenge I’ll be running a free ‘new year, new year’ challenge starting on the 9th of January.

Enter your email below to sign up!

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What do you think?

What other strategies can you think of to help limit weight gain?

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