Is a holiday without good food honestly even considered a holiday? Holidays and festivals are nothing without the foods that are specific to them.
When the holidays approach, some of us can’t think of anything but the food, while many of us are engaged in planning and prepping for all the delicious food that is to be cooked. But there is also a third category of people – the ones that are mostly worried about putting on that dreaded extra holiday weight! If you belong to this third category, don’t worry – most of us do. We live in the world of the world wide web – where we are constantly exposed to slim and lean bodies of actors, models and social media influencers and multiple success stories and transformations of people getting from fat to fit. Your physical appearance in terms of your weight is usually top of mind.
We have become exceedingly aware of new diets and how food affects our body-weight – especially for those of us who are 50 and over. The resting metabolic rate (RMR) of our body decreases after 50, and muscle strength begins to decline at a rate of 1.5-5 percent every year. This changing and somewhat declining body composition and metabolic rate in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle can make it much harder to lose or maintain your weight after 50.
However conscious you may try to be of what you eat, once the holiday season arrives with all its expansive holiday dinner table spreads, the best of us lose our self control. We eat the food that we see. Yes. We eat because we are aware of the availability of all that appetizing food around us! And this is precisely what makes it much more difficult to cope with and enjoy holiday eating without thinking about the possibility of gaining weight.
So what can you do?
Think the other way around
The abundance of food should be a blessing rather than a pain because this gives you the option to actually choose something that is both healthy and delicious (there is always a healthier option). Holiday eating becomes a lot more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about gaining weight.
Help yourself by changing your mindset
#1 To avoid gaining weight – eat when you’re hungry:
Eat only when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored or when you see food. Keep in mind to not extend this ‘not eating’ time to reach a state of starvation, which won’t let you be consciously selective with what you decide to eat, and you might end up overeating.
#2 To avoid gaining weight – eat with your mind, not eyes or your nose:
Do not eat something just because it looks or smells appealing to you. Ask yourself what your body really wants to eat and what will actually nurture it. Maybe your body doesn’t want the fries or mozzarella sticks that you’ve always loved – maybe your body actually prefers the Greek salad topped with toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds!
#3 To avoid gaining weight – don’t forget to savor the flavor amid conversation:
You might want to skip this point and go ahead, but don’t! Why are you eating all of this stuff when you don’t even have the time to savor it? You’re eating because of the great taste, so don’t miss out on that by getting lost in conversation with someone. Savor every bite that you take and actually enjoy your meal.
#4 To avoid gaining weight – stop when you have to:
Don’t get lost in the flavor! Stop when you know that you’re full, don’t keep eating just because your food is indulging. Being mindful here will save you the discomfort of indigestion and the worry of weight-gain later.
#5 To avoid gaining weight – eat ONLY for yourself:
Your aunt will still love you if you don’t eat the lemon cheesecake she made for Christmas; eat only if you want to, don’t spend the only calories you have.
#6 To avoid gaining weight – plan ahead:
If you want to end your meal with that chocolate mousse cake, plan in advance and eat a lighter main course to avoid the stress.
#7 To avoid gaining weight – stop when you’re stuffed:
If you know that you’ve overeaten, don’t go ahead and eat even more! Remember that there’s going to be many more chances and opportunities where you can replenish your tongue with more delicious food.
This abundance mindset, or thinking the other way around, will help you develop a habit of avoiding overeating. Remind yourself that you can always save a thing or two for later and you do not have to give in to eating more in the present moment. This way, you can easily enjoy your holidays, and still, eat all that you want to without gaining those extra pounds.