The fun and festivities of the holidays are beginning to ramp up, and while we all look forward to the joy that this special season brings, it also marks the time of year when it's easier than ever to blow your diet to smithereens. After all, you've got family gatherings, office parties and other holiday-related events to attend, and food temptations will abound in all of these scenarios.
So how can you keep your eating under control during this traditionally indulgent time? Try putting these key tactics into practice to help you keep your diet on track throughout the holiday season.
1. Never attend a holiday gathering on an empty stomach.
If there's one surefire way to set yourself up for failure, it would be to attend any type of holiday get-together on an empty stomach. The odds are already stacked against you, because more than likely there will be an abundance of food ready to greet you when you walk through the door.
Try eating a good breakfast, as this will keep you from experiencing a nutrient deficit later in the day that can make you ravenously hungry by the time the evening comes. Eat fresh fruits, eggs, or steel-cut oatmeal (not the instant stuff) for breakfast in order to start your metabolism off on the right foot; this will help keep you from overindulging during the holiday soiree.
2. Don't pile up food on the first go-round.
When you're at a holiday gathering, make it a practice to put moderate amounts of food on your plate on the first go-round. You have to remember that your eyes can sometimes be bigger than your stomach, so piling on the mac-n-cheese or sweet potato souffle right off the bat will more than likely be an error in judgment.
On your first go-round, only get moderate portions of each food you want to try out, and then check out how you feel before going back for seconds. You might discover that you actually feel satiated already, which will further prove that there was no reason to go overboard right out the gate.
3. Drink lots of water.
In addition to providing a host of health benefits, drinking a lot of water can also help you feel fuller, which will enable you to curb those fleeting cravings that can sometimes lead to poor food choices.
When you're about to enter a room where there's a bunch of tempting dishes calling your name, try downing an 8-ounce glass of water before you even pick up a plate. Not only can it make a significant difference in your hunger level, but it can also give you a moment of pause to help you be a little more mindful about your food choices.
4. Eat slowly.
Numerous studies have shown that we don't really even know whether or not we're full until we're about 20 minutes into our meal, so take your time and chew your food slowly. Remember that the slower you eat, the less overall food you'll consume versus eating at a fast pace during that same time frame.
5. Stay active throughout the holiday season.
Yes, this is easier said than done, but with a little planning you can pull it off. It can be something as simple as going for a 20-minute walk in the morning, or hitting the gym for 30 minutes three days out of the week. The point is to stay active and give your body the exercise it deserves. This will not only keep your metabolism humming along, but it will also boost your mood via the feel-good endorphins that get released when you work out. As we all know, mood plays a huge part in appetite, so squeezing in exercise during this busy season will help you stay in the right frame of mind for the holidays as well.
This season definitely brings many food temptations, but you don't have to sabotage your dieting efforts while you're enjoying yourself. Keep the above tips in mind to ensure that your diet stays on track, so that you'll have no regrets when the New Year rolls around.