The cookies, the cakes, the sweet holiday treats—they’re irresistible. And to be honest, who wants to resist them? But, depending on which study you read, the average American gains 6 pounds during the months of November and December. Doesn’t sound like much until it happens for three consecutive years—now you’ve gained 18 unwanted pounds! There is hope, however, if you want to best navigate the holidays with gaining minimal to no extra weight.
Use these tips to help pace yourself when it comes to holiday eating:
Tip #1: Eat as much real food as you can, with as many real ingredients as possible. As I’ve said before, “Eat food from a plant, not made in a plant.” The food industry wants you to believe that your poor behavior is the culprit when it comes to gaining unwanted pounds. But they know exactly what they are doing when they create processed foods that make you crave more. For them, it’s about business—not your health.
Tip #2: Fill your plate with plant-based foods first. Enjoy a delicious salad with lots of fresh ingredients before you indulge in dessert.
Tip #3: Drink 16 ounces of clean, purified water before you eat—we oftentimes confuse thirst with hunger.
Tip #4: Don’t shy away from healthy fat. Healthy fats include avocados, real butter, and heavy cream—they will help you feel fuller, faster so you can stay satisfied longer, causing you to eat less over the next several hours.
Tip #5: Minimize your grains. I know Grandma’s homemade rolls are the absolute best—but limit yourself to just one or try to share.
Tip #6: Put your fork down between each bite and consciously chew your food 20+ times. If there’s a teenager in the room, watch the way they eat and do the opposite (they barely breathe between bites).
Tip #7: Engage in a pleasant conversation during your meal. Don’t listen to Aunt Gloria talk about her continuous list of health concerns in a negative way. Studies show you digest better if you’re having a positive experience during your meal.
Tip #8: Stop and give 30 seconds of gratitude prior to eating. A recent study showed that if you do this, your body releases more digestive enzymes and speeds up your metabolism. Your demonstration of gratitude can be silent or out loud, and it can be to a higher power or just to Mother Earth for providing. It doesn’t matter—it’s the actual act of gratitude that helps the body process food.
Tip #9: Save dessert for last and share with others. Take a small taste of several different kinds and enjoy the moment. Don’t just sit down and inhale a huge bowl of ice cream—eating small bites and sharing will help you consume less throughout the meal.
Tip #10: Get active after your meal. Go for a 20-minute walk or pitch in and help clean up the holiday mess. Getting active instead of falling asleep in front of the TV will help you better digest your meal and encourage you to burn a few calories.