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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
6 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain by guest blogger Julie M. Simon

Set the best of intentions, overeat, shame and guilt yourself, repeat. It’s a familiar holiday pattern that ends in weight gain for many overeaters every year. The holiday season generally means more traveling, more stress, less time for physical activity and relaxation, more eating in general, and more emotional eating (especially if you have difficult relatives). But this time of year doesn’t have to be a recipe for weight gain. With a little forethought, you can implement the following six tips to avoid the holiday bulge and maintain your weight into the new year.

Tip 1. Avoid skipping meals or going to a party on an empty stomach. Pay attention to your hunger signals, eat throughout the day as you normally would, and eat a healthy snack before the party. An apple with peanut butter, a cup of pea soup, or veggies with hummus will help you avoid ravenous, out-of-control eating when you arrive.

Tip 2. Stay conscious and mindful — stick to one level plateful.
Avoid unconscious grabbing and snacking by making a decision to carefully choose what you want to eat. Make sure to include colorful foods full of fiber that help fill you up and lessen the chance that you’ll overeat. Do not go back for seconds unless you are truly hungry. Pay attention to your fullness level. Pause and allow yourself time to feel the fullness — move away from the buffet table and wait at least twenty minutes before eating anything else.

Tip 3. Stop after three bites of rich desserts.
Remind yourself that these are drug-like foods and that three bites will give you the sweetness and richness without much body imbalance. It’s probably best to pass the dessert to someone else after the three bites. Be willing to feel your feelings when eating time is over.

Tip 4. Pay attention to your emotions.
Check in with yourself before, during, and after holiday gatherings. If you’re experiencing unpleasant emotions like dread or sadness, remind yourself that overeating or overdrinking won’t resolve these feelings. Plan some time for nourishing self-care activities after stressful family get-togethers. Take a bubble bath, soothe and comfort yourself by writing loving affirmations in your journal, or read your favorite uplifting spiritual passages. Applaud yourself for being willing to care for yourself in a non-food way.

Tip 5. Adjust your expectations to a reasonable level. Expect that there will be some overindulgence and plan to get back to your healthful plan the next meal or the next day. Don’t expect difficult people to change — your critical mother may still make comments about your weight, and your lecturing in-laws will most likely tell you, for the umpteenth time, how to raise your kids. Try not to take other people’s bad behavior personally — you can’t control it, and it’s best not to waste precious energy on it.

Tip 6. Don’t take a vacation from exercise or scrimp on sleep. Even though you have a ton of commitments and are short on time, you’ll be more productive and energized if you take exercise breaks and get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Take a brisk walk, a hike in the woods, a bike ride with the kids, or a yoga class. Turn out the lights at a reasonable hour as many nights as possible — sleep deprivation creates hormonal imbalances that can lead to increased appetite and weight gain.

So eat, drink, practice good self-care, and be merry this holiday season and forego the usual New Year’s resolutions.

Julie M. Simon, MA, MBA, is the author of The Emotional Eater’s Repair Manual. She is also a licensed psychotherapist and life coach with twenty-plus years of experience helping overeaters stop dieting, heal their relationships with themselves and their bodies, lose weight, and keep it off.


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