No matter how many years you experience it, there's still a surprise when it happens to you. You get on the bathroom scale and the number is significantly higher than it was just a few days or weeks beforehand. How can you avoid packing on the pounds during a holiday season which celebrates gluttony, 2nd helpings, and all-you-can-eat meals?
Give these 10 Simple Rules a try and watch that scale move DOWN, not UP this holiday season (while still enjoying the foods you associate with the holiday season)!
Rule 10: Drink Responsibly
It goes without saying that alcoholic beverages (even and especially eggnog) pack a lot more calories than you think. And as the effects of that alcoholic beverage begin to take effect, the less you're conscious of just how many you've had. For example, the carbohydrates found in one pint of Guinness are 100% sugar! Sugars are simple carbs, used up faster by the body and can create unwanted insulin spikes!
Take a second before you head out with friends this season to plan ahead exactly the number of drinks you'll have (and find out how many calories are in just one).
Keep a night out on the town from turning into a day at the gym just working off those drinks!
Rule 9: Don't Drink Your Calories
Another rule about drinking? Bare with me, this one's worth the read.
Did you know that just one cup of eggnog has a whopping 19 grams of fat and over 300 calories? I'm all for splurging on your caloric intake for one day or meal during the holiday season, but drinking your calories (alcohol, dairy-based, or otherwise) doesn't fill you up the same way a meal can and leaves you wanting more.
Rule 8: Sailing The Seven Seas
Fill up on water before you sit down to a major holiday meal.
The water will create a fuller feeling in your stomach before you sit down to eat. But even more importantly - it's often hard to recognize the difference between hunger and dehydration. What may feel like a need for a 2nd or 3rd helping may actually be your body's silent cry for another glass of H2O!
Rule 7: Small Eyes Make Small Meals
Ever hear that phrase, "My eyes were bigger than my stomach?" It's not too far off the mark! We have a tendency to choose foods that fill up the plate we're eating from. A larger plate means more food. Choose a smaller plate (salad or dessert work great) for your next holiday meal. You'll find you don't miss the extra food and you'll even leave the table with the top button of your jeans intact!
Rule 6: Practice Island Eating
Each item on your plate is its own island. Islands don't touch other islands. Islands stand all by themselves.
By creating enough room on your plate to keep your food from touching, you're actually getting smaller portions as well! Smaller portions mean fewer calories on your plate and a smaller number on the scale than the person next to you who tried to reconstruct the local landfill with the amount of food on their plate!
Rule 5: The 70/30 Rule
70% of the food on your plate should be protein in the form of turkey, chicken, or any meat of your choosing. Your protein should be no larger than approximately 4oz (basically the size of your fist). 30% of the food on your plate should be from complex carbohydrates in the form of green beans (NOT the casserole), wild rice, or sweet potatoes (again, NOT the casserole).
Your carbs should equal no more than 2-3oz (the size of the inside of the palm of your hand). And that extra 10% we haven't covered? Enjoy a small helping of the item of your choice. It IS the holiday season and that DOESN'T mean you can't enjoy a small taste of Aunt Mavis' homemade stuffing! Just make sure it's ONLY 10% of what you're eating!
Rule 4: Question The Cook
Americans are CRAZY about casseroles (2 casseroles have already been referenced in Rule #5!) That means added fats in the form of butter, oil, and dairy. Casually ask the preparer what all went into the making of any of the dishes you're eyeing. If they begin the recipe with "heavy cream" or "cream of anything" soup... pass.
The extra calories and fat aren't worth what you'll be doing the next day to get the extra weight off.
Rule 3: A Good Rule of "Thumb"
Ah, dessert. The assortment is enough to make your head (and the dial on your bathroom scale) spin! The cakes, cookies, and assorted baked goodies are all so tempting!
Beware! This is where you can really pack on the calories! Restrict your dessert to an item no larger than the palm of your hand, or no bigger than the size of your thumb. (So that 7 layer cake is OUT of the question!)
Oh, and no comparing digits with everyone else in the room to see who has the largest thumb!
Rule 2: No Round-Trip Tickets
You've made your way 'round the holiday buffet, sat next to the cousin or uncle you haven't seen in ages, and have joined the Clean Plate Club by eating everything you brought to the table. You're done!
No going back for seconds or thirds... yet (we'll cover that in Rule #1). Get enough in the first pass to keep you from going back. Many times, you'll attempt to fill the plate in your hand again, either wasting food you'll find you're too full to eat, or an additional meal's worth of calories you didn't really need to eat. Stay where you are and catch up with Uncle Mike or Cousin Steve. Many times you'll find a 2nd trip unnecessary if you've followed rules 10 through 2!
Rule 1: There's A 20-Minute Wait From This Point
"But, I'm legitimately still hungry," you may complain!
You're allowed a trip back to the buffet... IF... IF you wait 20 minutes first.
Wait 20 minutes after you've eaten your big holiday meal. If you're still truly hungry, go back for a smaller version of whatever you're hungry for.
However, chances are, after that 20 minute wait you'll find you're pleasantly satisfied. Why? It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to get the message to your brain that you've had enough to eat. Scarfing down a 2nd helping of Aunt Janice's sweet potato casserole before your stomach has had time to get that memo to your brain can result in the top button of your pants relieving itself from the buttonhole without you even realizing it!
Follow these 10 Simple Rules to have a happy, healthy holiday season and keep the Holiday Bulk at bay!