How to Avoid Christmas Overeating & Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Dec 16, 2020
How to Avoid Christmas Overeating & Prevent Holiday Weight Gain | Dr. Morgan Nolte

In this episode I'm going to talk about my top tips to avoid overeating this Christmas so you can reduce that holiday weight gain. 

I’ll cover how to set mini-goals before the big meal to improve your self-control; the 3 magic words to eat less sweets; how to structure your meal to fuel your body; hydration tips; mindset shifts to avoid the guilt associated with eating dessert; and some stress relief techniques to reduce emotional eating. 

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Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #1: Train for Game Day

I view big holiday feasts the same way an athlete may anticipate a big sporting event. They can’t expect to slack off in practice, or just not practice at all, and perform well on game day. 

The only way to have self-control during the holidays is to practice self-control before the actual meal itself. 

One of the most practical things you can do is a mini-fast from sweets the week before the holiday. 

Sometimes eating sweets, even a few chocolate chips or a piece of candy, becomes automatic and inconsequential. In the big scheme of things, it probably is. But the point of this exercise is to practice mindful eating and self-control. 

Then when the actual meal comes, and I want seconds, or I want more dessert, I’ve built my self-control muscles over the last week so that it takes a lot less willpower to say “no thank you” than it otherwise would. 

I also try to reduce snacking the week before the holiday. If I do want to snack on the holiday, I try to pick off the vegetable or cheese tray, to eat foods that won’t spike my blood sugar and insulin. 

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #2: Intermittent Fasting

Another great technique to prepare for game day is to practice the 6-1 intermittent fasting schedule that I covered in this video so definitely check that out next if you haven’t watched it yet. 

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #3: Say, "No Thank You"

My next tip for you is to remember the three magic words. This is a really simple technique! Just because someone offers you food, doesn’t mean you need to take it. 

You’re not being rude by being healthy. Simply say, “No thank you” and move on. If you feel bad about turning someone down, offer your assistance in another way. Maybe you could clean, cook, entertain kids, fill water glasses, ect. 

One of my favorite sayings is “see the need” and the holidays are the perfect time to practice that. It keeps you busy and productive without needing to be around the food all of the time. 

Remember if it’s out of sight it will be more likely to be out of mind. So if by chance you do take some sweets into your house, put them out of sight or simply throw them away and don’t tell anyone. 

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #4: Structure Your Meals Well

Next I want you to think about how you’re filling your plate, or how you're structuring your meals. I want you to fuel your body, so anchor  your plate in protein first because it’s the most satiating of all three macronutrients. Also, load up on the non-starchy vegetables or salad. 

Crowd your plate with foods that are higher in protein, healthy fat, and fiber and take smaller portions of the more unhealthy options. 

Ensure that you are getting some sort of protein with your meal to keep you full and less likely to go back for seconds. 

If there is no color on your plate, in other words, if it’s full of bread and potatoes, you may want to consider going back for some vegetables. 

Remember that starch and sugar don't trigger the hormones that tell you to stop eating, but eating foods with fat, protein, and fiber will, so you will be less likely to overeat. 

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #5: Drink Plenty of Water

This next tip may seem obvious, but most people aren’t doing it! It’s to drink enough water!

If you fill your body with water, there will be less room for food. Plain and simple. Try to drink at least one full glass of water shortly before your meal. 

All too often I look around at water glasses still nearly full after a meal...while the wine glasses are closer to empty!

Make a mini-goal to drink at least one glass of water during your meal. This will make you be more mindful, and slow you down. Another tip I’ve used to slow down is to literally put my fork down several times during the meal to focus more on conversation. 

I’d recommend drinking another glass of water before dessert. 

Avoid diet drinks as these often cause cravings for sweet foods, and I don’t think anyone needs any more temptation around the holidays. Alcohol is a source of empty calories, and many sweet drinks are loaded with sugar. If you drink, do-so in moderation.

Stick with primarily water, tea, or coffee but watch the delicious holiday themed creamers, unfortunately she are loaded with added sugar and will make your sugar cravings worse.

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #6: Use Exception Meals

Next, I want to introduce you to something I call an exception meal. I teach my clients and members good nutritional habits, a solid baseline, so that they can veer off 10% of the time for an exception meal here and there without ruining their diet. 

They’ve worked on their nutrition and formed solid habits most of the time, so they can enjoy the dessert without feeling guilty because they have likely eaten healthy up to that meal, and will return to their nutritional baseline after that meal. 

If you don’t regularly have exception meals when you are losing weight, you aren’t giving yourself the opportunity to practice self-control on a regular basis, and will be more likely to fall off the band-wagon.

Accept that food, especially unhealthy food, is part of most family traditions. There are so many delicious healthy alternatives to traditional comfort food and dessert online. 

You can try some of those but if you’re not the one in charge of the meal, stop worrying about what the scale will say tomorrow, be present, be moderate with your choices, and enjoy the time with your loved ones. 

 

Avoid Christmas Overeating Tip #7: Reduce Emotional Eating Tendencies

Lastly I want to cover some stress relief techniques to reduce emotional eating.

One of my favorites is to set aside time first thing in the morning for reading, prayer, meditation, or journaling. It helps reduce whatever tension I have and start my day off right. 

As best you can, get a good night of sleep the day before a holiday. I recommend trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep. 

When you are sleep deprived your hunger hormones go up, and your satiety hormones go down, making you more likely to crave high carb foods and overeat. 

I recommend doing a little exercise the day of the big meal, even a short walk or stretch can be helpful to reduce your stress and calm your mind to prepare for the rush of food, fun, and family. 

If the weather is nice, try to go for a walk or doing an activity after the big meal to use up some of that energy! Even picking just one of these tips can help to prevent that holiday weight gain. 

 

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