6 SIMPLE EAT HACKS TO GET YOUR THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS!
It’s the holiday season, and no matter what you’re celebrating or why, if there’s one thing that Americans know how to do when we get together to celebrate, it’s EAT. From that Thanksgiving spread with candied yams, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie, to that New Year’s Eve celebration with cocktail weenies, spinach and artichoke dip, and champagne, with about two months worth of eggnog (with or without a little extra holiday cheer in the form of bourbon or rum) in between, and you know what’s liable to happen: that extra-snug feeling around your waistline. We all know the perils of the winter holiday season for anyone trying to watch their weight, and how easy it is to gain a few extra pounds on gravy and mashed potatoes alone,… let alone the platter of Pepperidge Farm Milanos lurking on top of your mom’s lazy susan in the snacking nook that somewho mysteriously appears 5 days before Christmas Eve,…. ohhhhh. Snack nook. Hook it your veins right? 😉
So with all of that dining destruction in mind, Fit Farm is here to help. We’re going to share with you six simple eat-hacks you can use to manage your holiday weight-gain. If you follow these six snacking stages for holiday eating, we feel confident that you can decrease or even curtail your holiday weight gain. So let this year’s gift to yourself be not having to let your belt out an extra notch.
1. Eat Before You Feast
Eating more might seem counter-intuitive, but if you eat smart, it can save you in the long run. A lot of people might take the course of not eating anything before a large holiday meal, so as to not eat “extra” calories on the big day, but this is, generally speaking, a self-defeating strategy. You know that grandma is going to bring the cheese ball, that your uncle is going to unload half a case of box wine in the kitchen, your cousin is going to bring at least two plates worth of cheese-you-can’t-pronounce, and the family insists that you make that peanut-butter fudge,… a double batch. Not having a sensible breakfast, or if your holiday festivities begin late in the day, a light, filling lunch,… will only mean that you will arrive at your gala event severely calorie-deprived, like a famished sugar-lemur stumbling into Willy Wonka’s private stash, now trapped in an area full of high-fat, calorie-rich foods as your beady, covetous, eyes dilate with insulin-shock anticipatory glee. Stop. Think. Consider eating something high in fiber — raw carrots or celery, some bran cereal with skim milk — all BEFORE you arrive to ground zero, to get pre-filled. That way you can eat without feeling the need to fill-up all the way. And one more thing, the mind-body connection here is actually one of the best dynamics you can have, because it will help eliminate your chemical cravings right off the bat, before any big culinary event.
Just remember not to ‘fowl’ up your strategy by doubling down on portions outright like our feathered friend up above!
2. Have a Seat Before You Eat
The siren call of snacking amid the din of holiday hustle and shopping showdowns will break down even the staunchest paleo patriot. It’s tough, because when you’re on the go, you’re also burning dough (that was a bad rhyme for analogizing the fact that you’re burning calories as you take that 3.2 mile Black Friday shop-a-thon, but you get the point). The food court is awfully adjacent to the movie theater, and nothing feels more right than a healthy helping of FroYo after the feature show,… which is (of course) consumed after a tub of popcorn and (if you’re anything like me) a pack of Twizzlers (their fruity goodness knows no bounds)! So what can you do to slow your cinnamon roll, so-to-speak? It’s actually one of the simplest and most effective eat-hacks in the book (here it is, are you ready for it? can you imagine the sheer genius of this tip about to be unleashed?!) – SIT DOWN. Yep. That’s it. Sit down. Instead of browsing and carousing from stop-to-stop on your food-trip as you hop from shop to shop, take the time to consciously sit down to eat, and eat well. One of the best things you can do is to simply prescribe some time that your entire passel stops the shopping, decompresses a little bit, and sits down at home (or an actual restaurant – NOT a fast food joint) and takes the time to order, talk and burn the social time surrounding the biological necessity of sustenance. Now to be clear, we’re not espousing do this on a daily basis, as this can add up quick on your wallet and waistline, but for those few days that you spend more time out of the house than you do in the kitchen, this can be a really effective way to manage food intake as a conscious (and in truth, more enjoyable) way. So before your jeans don’t fit, take the time to sit! You’ll be glad you did.
3. Be a Mindful Eater
Susan Albers recommends “mindful eating.” Think about what it is that you are putting on your plate, and eat it slowly and thoughtfully. It’s like the advice mom always used to give you: be sure to chew your food. Taking the time to savor each bite, to slowly indulge often allows the body to “catch up” as it were, to let you know that it’s full. You know everyone’s going sit around the table for at least the next hour, so why wolf your food down in the first ten minutes? Do you even know what side dishes you just ordered? Do you? Shame on you (just kidding, we all do it). If you take the time to eat slowly, you might find you don’t really need that second plate. And what’s more, you’ll find that you actually make the most of your holiday food diversity once you’ve had the chance to enjoy several different food offerings along the way ( no seriously! I once realized I had eaten the exact same meal 5 times over Christmas at the same restaurant chain. Who knew binge eating could be so boring?) Whether they be at a holiday party, your favorite restaurant, or the family dinner – take time to smell the roses (but don’t eat them, unless they’re a really fancy sugar-coat garnish being used atop a cake).
And above all, be conscious with how you approach eating throughout the day, particularly when in tandem with leisure snack-magnet activities like the oh-so precious Netflix night at our household, where Netflix and Chill often turns into Breakfast and Grill.
4. Eat Smart
Abel James suggests filling up in a sensible order. If you know you’re going to eat a lot, make sure to eat more things that are lower in fat and empty calories. When grandpa asks if you want a slice of what you’re pretty sure must be the Everclear-drenched fruitcake that grandma made back in 1998, think about where if falls along this list:
- Fibrous vegetables (carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli)
- Proteins (turkey, ham, tofurky)
- Whole-food fats (cheese, nuts, dark chocolate, eggs)
- Everything else (grandma’s mystical fruitcake, cookies, that fifth glass of boxed Merlot)
The lower down on the scale it is, the less of it you should have. Do your best to eat top down, and be aware that if you cover the broccoli with cheese, it falls down the list a couple of notches under the gravity of its (and your) eventual self-loathing.
5. Don’t Strive to be a Perfect Eater
An easy way to overindulge is to make unattainable goals. If your goal is to not eat any cookies, chips, dips, or anything with the color white in it, “you’re gonna have a bad time” (obligatory link to that Southpark video clip HERE). Strive instead to be a good eater, one who makes smart choices, but still allows for a little indulgence in the journey towards holiday zen. Instead of no dessert, say no to the whipped cream and that scoop of ice cream that goes with the slice of pecan pie. Instead of no cream cheese heavy spinach dip, allow yourself a little cocktail plate that, once finished, is cast aside in favor of a pickup game of football in the backyard. Be brave enough to say no in the face of “machine gun” snacking rounds,… you know the kind I mean! Went Aunt Ginny keeps launching cookies at your face like skeet at a shooting range, and you can only discern vaguely what they taste like by the frosting color? Just stop. Say ‘No thanks’, and wait a round for something more substantial. Besides, you can still enjoy Aunt Marion’s family-famous chocolate lava cake, so long as you go in aware of portion size, and can give a firm no to the little extras that add calories without really adding much else.
A caveat: If you have that temptation food, that thing where you preface eating it by saying, “You know, I can’t eat just one of these, I just can’t say no! I usually end up eating half a dozen before I even know what I’m doing!” then, unless it’s the crisp crunch of a carrot stick that draws you in, keep away from that ONE FOOD. We’ve all got that food we can sit and eat and not realize how much of it we’ve been eating — potato chips, ice cream, cake, cookies, sugar-coated lemur bits (that was a conscious hat tip to the lemur reference at the top) — and by being firm to start with, you won’t have to feel guilty about nuking your insulin levels after.
6. Don’t Just Eat
You may be at a party with friends, or at your aunt’s home with your family. No matter where you are, there’s conversation to be had, friends and family to visit with, and while food is a big part of any holiday, it’s only part of the DAY. Take the time to talk with your family members, go out and play touch football, or volunteer help to wash the dishes. Find a way to not just sit in a chair and fall asleep with a plate in your lap. The more time you spend away from the dessert table or the pre-meal spread, the fewer opportunities you will find to sneak a few extra bites in. Enjoy the entirety of your day, not just the parts spent with a plate. Grandma will appreciate the time you took to chat, and your waistline just might enjoy it, too!
Whatever you celebrate, and however you celebrate it, at Fit Farm, we hope that these eat-hacks prove useful, and that you enjoy your holidays, and come back ready to tackle the new year, with those extra holiday pounds being the one thing you didn’t find in your stocking. For more great tips and tricks on how to navigate your fitness journey without hitting the wall, check out our OFFICIAL WHIPPY BLOG and let us know what you think in the comments below! Fit Farm. Challenge Your Limits.