It’s almost that time of year and we are ready for it — the treat-laden caloric nightmare that is the holiday season. You’re all set with your menu from stuffed turkey — click here for the best turkey recipe ever! — with all the fixins to pumpkin pies topped with globs of whipped deliciousness and the fatty goodness of everything in between.
Cranberry jam? Check. Casserole everything? Check. A good ten pounds of unwanted belly fat? ARGH.
Well, fear not, would-be feasters. You don’t have to lose your slim, summer self in the upcoming holiday meal madness. You just need a few smart strategies to survive with your body intact. Before you make the holiday rounds, check out these tips from Shane Griffin, a certified nutritional practitioner and CEO of the international nutritional coaching company Whole Life Balance. He’ll help you stay on the leaner side of the holiday table and still enjoy all the culinary pleasures we crave this season.
5 TIPS TO FIGHT THE HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN FOOD FIASCO
1. SNACK BEFORE YOU ATTACK
Time to head over to Grandma’s for dinner? Prep your growling stomach before going to battle! If you remember to munch on a healthy snack like almonds, carrots or fruit, by the time you get to dinner (aka the battlefield), your brain will have registered that you are in fact not dying from hunger and don’t need to consume ALL the food in the house to survive.
2. FIRST IS THE WORST
In this case, being first in line is not the ideal place to be. Never underestimate the visual power of food – specifically untouched food. A brand new, hot-out-of-the-oven casserole topped with fried onions looks a lot more appetizing when 10 people haven’t destroyed it trying to get at the best parts. If you let others go ahead of you, by the time you reach the most calorie-packed items, they’ll have lost some of their appeal. Less appealing = Less on your plate.
3. REMEMBER #PlateGate
Controversial as your decision may be amongst loved ones, choosing to use a smaller plate than everyone else is not a crime against the Turkey gods. In fact, our brains equate a full plate with a full meal, and by reducing the size of your eating apparatus, you’ll trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating more. According to the Calorie Control Council, we eat an average of 3,000 calories per holiday dinner. Swapping out your full-size dinnerware with a smaller salad plate can help you eat 40% less food, cutting out up to 1,200 calories.
4. STOP, DROP THE ROLL
This phrase is easy to remember when you’re approaching the bread basket. The baked white bread roll is not your friend, and its companions are not your friends either (ahem, butter, jelly, etc.). Simple carbs like white breads are digested quickly by the body, leaving you feeling hungry faster and more likely to go back for a second helping. Instead, fill up with lean protein like turkey. It will keep you feeling full longer.
5. FIGHT THE BITE
Slow and steady wins the race here, so resist the urge to devour your food in five minutes or less. Instead, play a game with yourself to see if you can eat slower than everyone around you. Your brain takes up to 20 minutes to register the chemical signals from your stomach, letting it know you’re full. So slow down and take note of how you feel. If you’re starting to feel full, you’re probably already there and you need to take a few minutes to let your brain catch up to your belly.