Megan Rasmussen MS, RDN
The holiday season is full of cozy nights, beloved family traditions, and all around good cheer. But one thing that comes with the holidays that many love and hate is an abundance of tempting sweet treats—treats that can be responsible for killing one’s holiday weight loss attempts. Between November and December we are bombarded from all sides with holiday parties, your sister’s annual holiday baking frenzy, dessert displays in grocery stores and more! The temptation to indulge is at an all-time high.
So what can you do when holiday goodies are practically being thrown at you? Hibernate from November to January? I’ve got a better way. Here are 3 steps to not eating everything in sight during the holidays.
Step 1: Understand that any food can fit in a healthy diet.
I’m sure you’ve heard that eating one cookie won’t make you gain weight. And it’s true. To gain 1 pound, you must consume an excess of 3500 calories. Therefore, eating one cookie (about 150 calories) even a few times during the week shouldn’t cause weight gain.
So the first thing you can do is give yourself permission to eat some holiday treats, but practice not giving in to every single one. Choose treats you know you love the most!
Step 2: When you do decide to treat yourself, enjoy it like it’s your last meal.
Now that you have given yourself permission to eat one of your favorite holiday treats, it’s time to scarf it down, right? Not so fast! Evidence suggests eating more slowly could keep you from gaining those extra holiday pounds.
According to Hawton (2019), “Slowing eating rate appears to be an effective strategy for reducing food intake” (p. 1). So when it comes to eating your selected treat, eat it slowly without distractions. Focus on the aromas, textures, and flavors of the food. Chances are, by the time you have swallowed your last bite, you will be completely satisfied, and not tempted to eat more.
Step 3: Prioritize how your body feels.
At this point, maybe you are feeling okay with enjoying fewer treats. Great! But what if you have a hard time saying no to food? Something that may help is to focus on how your body feels. Picture this: You arrive at work to a box of doughnuts and a sign that says, “Happy Holidays! You deserve a doughnut!” Before thinking ‘how can I not take one?’ pause and think about how your body will feel after eating that doughnut. Not super great, right? Let that motivate you to say “No thank you. Maybe another time.”
Yes, the holidays can be difficult for those of us working hard to lose weight. But you don’t need to completely deprive yourself. Let yourself truly enjoy the treats you know you love, and pass on the others. You will thank yourself on January 1st.
- Hawton K, Ferriday D, Rogers P, et al. Slow Down: Behavioural and Physiological Effects of Reducing Eating Rate. Nutrients. 2018;11(1):50. Published 2018 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/nu11010050