Updated: Dec 9, 2021
I love the holidays. The decor, the music, and of course the food! Regardless of what holidays you celebrate this time of year it's likely that rich, indulgent food will be involved. In my family, in addition to celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa, we celebrate 4 birthdays and our wedding anniversary. When I started my 60lb weight loss & wellness journey seven years ago I quickly learned I needed a strategy to get through the holiday session without weight gain or throwing off my wellness goals.
I know first hand, it's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and lose sight of your wellness goals. Or you can go the opposite extreme and be so focused on restricting yourself from food that you miss out on the joy of the holiday season. You may have said, "I'm not eating this or that" only to find yourself overindulging at that holiday party.
It's tempting to just ignore your weight and wellness till January 1st.
However it's important to know. If you wait till the New Year to focus on your weight and wellness, you're at risk of gaining 1 to 5 lbs (average weight gain 1.1lbs) during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Years). While your weight isn't the only marker of your wellness. It's can be an indication that your wellness is off balance. When you gain weight during the holidays it tends to stick around in the new year. Despite most people planning to lose weight in January most don't and the weight sticks around through the entire year. Over time, these extra pounds can lead to obesity and weight-related conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
Fortunately, this doesn't have to happen to you. You may be afraid even to attempt focusing on your weight & wellness during this time because
"It's too stressful."
"I won't be able to enjoy the season the way I want to"
I hear you. After how crazy 2021 has been, I want you to enjoy the holidays. We all deserve to. My only concern is that indulgent food/beverages doesn't have to be our only form of enjoyment, especially as we look to a better 2021.
As an "emotional eater in recovery" with a sweet tooth I know first hand how challenging this season can be. But what if I told you for the past 7 years I've been able to maintain my weight & overall during the holidays and even lose weight too without major dieting.
If you'd like to know how I did it, keep reading. I'm going to share my Embrace You Celebration & Vacation Strategy with you. This strategy has not only helped me but over 30 Incredible Embracers get through the holidays with enjoyment while still maintaining your weight and wellness goals.
List all your holiday food related events. Include events such as "annual cookie baking, grandma's pie. etc"
Choose the 3 most significant events to be your "Indulgence Events"
Use the following steps to prepare for your Indulgence Events
On non indulgence days follow your healthy weight and wellness plan.
Eat your regular meals
o Even if you reduce your intake a little in preparation for indulging at the event, do not skip meals. If you are extremely hungry during the event you are more likely to overeat than if you have eaten throughout the day,
Drink enough water
o 1oz/ kg is recommended if you don't have medical conditions
Exercise the day of the event
o This helps expend extra energy (calories) and helps you feel healthier. However, remember it’s very easy to eat more energy than you used exercising. For example, depending on your pace, a 1mile walk only burns 80-100 kCal but a slice of chocolate cake is about 300-400 kCal depending on the type and slice.
Reflect & plan. Ask yourself
o What do I want to celebrate during this event?
o Is food essential to this event?
o If faced with multiple days of celebration ask:
- Which food related celebration is most significant to me?
- Is there are way to make the other events/ celebrations less focused on food?
o For restaurants review the menu before hand and plan your meal.
o Decide on your indulgence category:
-Savory (starchy carbs; high fat meal),
- Sweets (sweet carbs; sugary treats including soda)
- Spirits (alcohol)
Only choose one area of indulge and limit your intake of the rest. For
instance if you are planning on dessert have a light entrée with no alcohol and water for your beverage.
During the event
Focus on friends/family not food
o Be present when you talk to someone. Focus on the gift of enjoying each other’s company rather than the food. Again remember why you are gathering.
o If at a cocktail party or other event that involves food and standing. Do NOT eat while standing and talking. When you decide to find somewhere to sit and sit before eating. This will allow you to eat more mindfully.
o Think before you eat. If there is a buffet: look at everything on the buffet, decide what are the top 4 items you want from the buffet and then make your plate. As you make your plate pay attention to your portion side.
Water or unsweetened tea only, unless you have determined alcohol or soda will be your indulgence
Portion control plate
Avoid second servings; Aim for one plate only
After the event
If you chose to indulge at the event, let your indulgence stop after the event. The next day resume healthy eating & fitness
If you had an unexpected indulgence or ate more than you planned IT’S OKAY! Let it go and try to get back on track- NOW! Check out the article I wrote from Obesity Help: "A Food Binge: How to Recover From It"
If you have leftovers, let them go. Choose to either:
o Give away the leftovers
o Toss the excess food
o Reduce large leftover portions into individual portions and freeze them. See ChooseMyPlate.gov for recommended serving sizes.
Okay, take a deep breath. You can do this! It's better to try rather than wait. Even a small attempt is better than none.
You can create your own winning holiday strategy today using Embrace You Celebration & Vacation Strategy . For a limited time (12/24/21) it's on sale for only $10 (50% off).
Above all may you:
Release Focusing on Food
Embrace Your Holidays with Enjoyment
Holiday Resources to Help You with Your Weight & Wellness
Overcoming Emotional Eating on The Practical Healthy Life Show
Embrace You: Your Guide to Transforming Weight Loss Misconceptions Into Lifelong Wellness by Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, MD
For more support on your weight and wellness journey join our Facebook Group Embrace You to Lasting Weight Loss.