Words on a white background 'Naughty or Nice'

Will You Be Naughty or Nice To Yourself Over the Holidays?

I love this time of year! The festivities, family gatherings, and yes the food! 

I always experience some anxiety about whether I can stick to my lifestyle plan or will I gain a few pounds?  Let’s be frank here, this is a time of year that sweets are abundant and many of these are only prepared at this time of the year, couple that with the plates of goodies given by well-meaning co-workers, friends, and family the struggle is real, right? 

For the last several years I have been able to maintain my weight over the holidays and I want to share with you the tips that have helped me keep the scale from tipping against me.

1. Make a Plan – Before putting a single morsel on your plate, look at all the offerings and decide which ones you most want to eat.  Pick the ones that are your favorites or look the most delicious to you and take a small serving.  Skip anything that is not a must-have. By sticking to your plan you can indulge in your favorites and avoid extra calories from mindlessly trying everything that is available.

2. Pay Attention to Portions – Yes, I am adding that in here.  I always talk about portions because they are that important. Serving up smaller portions saves a lot of calories. Eating less does not leave you feeling deprived. Researchers at Cornell University fed study participants small or large portions of cakes, cookies, pies, and chips and found that both groups felt equally satisfied with their servings, but those with the smaller portions only ate half the calories of the group with the large portions.

3. Pick a Different Plate – Research published in 2016 in The Journal of Consumer Research shows you will consume 30% fewer calories by using a smaller plate. A smaller plate will give you the illusion that you are eating more food. Fill up a salad plate instead of a dinner plate and your waistline will benefit.

4. Skip the Saving up Calories Thinking – It’s a mistake to “save up” calories for the party, family gathering.  You will end up feeling starved and head straight to food and start eating everything in sight.  To keep hunger in check, eat a small meal or snack with lean proteins, healthy fats, and a few good carbs. You will be able to make smarter choices if your stomach is not growling. 

5. Skip Seconds – Instead of overindulging with second servings of your favorites, stick with a single serving and allow yourself to save the rest for leftovers. Knowing that you will have another meal of your favorites tomorrow gets you our of the “I better eat it all now” mentality.

6.  Weigh In – Step on the scale every morning. This is a tricky one because you have to not get upset if the number goes up a bit but checking it daily will keep you more mindful. A study in the Journal of Obesity found that those who weighed themselves daily during the holiday season were less likely to gain weight than those who did not step on the scale.

7. Walk Away – Standing around the buffet or appetizer table will likely cause you to continue to nibble. Make your selections, walk away and don’t go back – as Tip 5 suggests – skip the seconds!

8. Rethink Recipes – The holiday season brings many of those “special” recipes. You can reduce the amount of sugar in most recipes by a third to a half and no one will notice.  Consider adding veggies on the Charcuterie board, use nut-thin crackers instead of highly processed store-bought brands. You can swap the cool whip for coconut cream and trade the veggie casserole recipes for roasted veggies.

9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – Those “hunger pains” could be a sign that you are dehydrated, not famished. Drink as much water as possible. Avoid the sugar-laden sodas and holiday punch. Limit yourself to 1 serving of egg nog or pass it up completely. Adult beverages can be a real stinker when it comes to calories. When you raise your glass for a holiday toast, opt for a wine spritzer or a mixed drink like vodka and club soda over the sugar laded festive cocktails. Mixing wine with sparkling water cuts the amount of wine and calories in half and keeps you hydrated.  The British Medical Journal published research that concluded among those who drink, get 10% of their daily calories from alcohol alone.  So keep a lid on the liquid calories.

10. Get Moving – The holiday isn’t an excuse to ditch your exercise routine.  If the busy schedule keeps you from hitting the gym think of other ways to get some movement in.  Look for local 5K’s that may be happening in your community. Make a family walk part of the festivities, go sledding with the kids or grandkids, play in the snow or have a family football game. Step away from the technology and do something that moves your body. Even 10 minutes counts and will have a positive effect not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well.

11. Focus on the Festivities – The holidays aren’t just about the food.  Have meaningful conversations with family members, reminiscing of past memories and joyful times. This is a time to celebrate all the good things in life, not just the food. Put your energy into sincere and engaged conversations instead of fixating on a meal that is being served. The more you focus on the festivities, family, and friends the less you will focus on food. The more you count your blessings the less you will have to count calories.

I hope you find these tips useful.

Coach Barb and I and the entire Nourish Lifestyle Team wish you and yours a happy, and healthy holiday.

Coach Deb

Dr. Chris Hoelscher

Chris is our science guy.  Chris founded Eastland Chiropractic & Lifestyle Center in 1984 and retired from active practice in 2017.  During his time in practice, he opened several clinics in the midwest and one in Saipan, a US commonwealth in Micronesia. He has always maintained an active interest in biology, chemistry and physics and how they affect our bodies. He knew there had to be a reason why some people could eat almost anything and still not gain weight, while others only had to look at food and their waistline would start to expand. He became interested in how and if genetics play a role in weight management and how foods can affect us all differently.  

He also believes that you have to be able to measure anything you want to manage and that starts with knowing where you’re at.  THe INbody scale we utilize in The Nourish Lifestyle program is what gives us the measurable data needed to chart progress. It’s not just the number on the bathroom scale but what the pounds are made of that’s important. With the Inbody scale we can assess the changes in body composition to make sure we are making progress. 

He is also fondly known as our on-call tech guy, fixing our computers, printers and most anything else that needs a fix at our office.