For most of us, it’s the same story every year; when the holidays roll around, the weight gain is almost inevitable. There seems to be a phenomenon that happens in late November: you wake up one morning, and two inches have been added to your waistline. All jokes aside, it’s really hard to be healthy during the winter months. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the amount of sugar-filled and butter-laden foods triples, and even the healthiest of us succumb to the call of the cookie. However, this needn’t be the case. It is, in fact, possible to enjoy all those holiday feasts without gaining 10 pounds. Here’s how:
1. Small Plates
It’s sad when your plate isn’t completely covered with food, especially if you’re at a buffet with tons of options to try. However, filling your entire plate can lead to overeating, particularly if you can’t bear to waste food. Eating from a small plate simply gives you the illusion that you’re eating a huge meal. You’ll feel satisfied without feeling sick to your stomach.
“Just a little bit.” It is possible to eat the unhealthiest of foods and not gain weight. The trick is to eat small portions. Studies have shown that our cravings are actually satisfied after just a few bites — we don’t need that giant piece of cake to feel happy. So, for all the unhealthy foods that are offered this winter, take only four or five bites. Your body will thank you.
3. Healthy Swaps
Winter foods are the definition of heavy. Often laden with fat and sugar, these foods have little nutritional content and can adversely affect your mood. A good way to remedy this is by substituting the bad (like butter) with the good (like Greek yogurt). Olive oil and coconut oil are great substitutes for butter or shortening; honey and agave for sugar; and quinoa for rice or bread.
4. Eat until Satisfied, Not Stuffed
For most of us at Spoon, holiday dinners are a time to eat until you can’t button your pants, let alone move. Sadly, this is one of the biggest culprits of holiday weight gain. When you sit down for Christmas dinner, only eat until you are satisfied. A good way to gauge whether or not you’re satisfied at the end of a meal is to wait five minutes and see if you still have hunger cues or enough energy to go for a long walk.
5. Don’t Forget about Fruits and Vegetables
No matter how much sugar you eat, always make sure to eat at least two cups of fruits and veggies a day. To do this, you will probably have to replace part of your otherwise unhealthy meal with nutritious greens. This provides you with nutrients and forces you to cut back on the heavier foods. This trick works wonders during the holidays when your diet consists mostly of big meals and leftovers.
The winter weight gain can be a real struggle, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these tips. Regardless, don’t let your weight get you down–remember to enjoy the holidays above all else!