Hello, parties and holiday buffets! It’s time to eat, drink and be merry — but how can you enjoy the food and still avoid gaining weight during the holidays? We’ve rounded up some of the best holiday diet tips from the experts.
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Prioritize the proteins
- Go easy on the gravies and sauces
- Eat more slowly
- Use smaller plates
- Use a tall, thin glass
- Buy a lot of small Tupperware
- Don’t drink your calories
- Sneak in any workout
- Take the “1 spoonful” strategy
- Limit party leftovers
- Pay attention to your moods
- Pick other ways to bond
- Set a (realistic) holiday goal
Don’t skip breakfast
Don’t “save” your calories for tonight’s buffet. If you starve yourself, you mess up your metabolism and get so hungry you’ll stuff yourself without even enjoying your food. Instead, eat a high-protein, low-carb breakfast that will help you feel full without loading up on calories.
Prioritize the proteins
FIll your plate with proteins. They’re probably the star of the buffet, anyway (roasted duck and medium-rare steak, we’re looking at you). Limit the carbohydrates, such as pasta and noodles.
Go easy on the gravies and sauces
These usually have a lot of sugars and fat, and add hundreds of calories to your dish. Spoon them over your meat rather than your rice, or pour it into a small bowl and dip your meat instead. You’ll get the flavour, but less of the fattening stuff.
Eat more slowly
Pace yourself! You’ll enjoy the food’s smell and flavour more, and you’ll also be more aware of your hunger levels. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register signals from the stomach that you’re already full.
Studies also show that chewing slowly releases hormones in the gut that help you digest your food and process it more efficiently. Mom was right: gobbling down your meals does cause indigestion.
Use smaller plates
It’s a mind trick: your brain thinks you’ve got a heaping plate, so you feel more satisfied even if you’re taking smaller portions. You’re also forced to get less food, so you make smarter buffet choices. You don’t feel deprived, since you know you can always get another serving. But at least you’ll only do that if the dish is really good, or if you’re really hungry.
Use a tall, thin glass
This works just like a smaller plate. You’ll pour less liquid into a taller, thin glass than a short but very round/fat glass. This is a great tip when you’re drinking alcohol or a high-calorie holiday drink like eggnog.
Buy a lot of small Tupperware
When you have a huge cake or box of cookies, divide it into portions and store in single-serving plastic containers. That prevents you from bingeing on holiday treats. You still get to enjoy the sweets, but you’re eating them in diet-friendly portions.
Don’t drink your calories
Holiday food’s already packed with calories, so balance it out by just drinking water. Even fresh juices (and wines!) can have lots of sugar.
Sneak in any workout
We completely understand if you don’t have time or aren’t in the mood to go the gym — even fitness buffs tend to exercise less during the holidays!
However, don’t take an all or nothing approach. You may not have time for a full workout, but do a 20-minute exercise video at home, or a quick jog or run on the treadmill. You’ll burn some of the calories, and you’ll feel less bloated. The exercise will also release endorphins, which will help prevent the holiday blues.
Take the “1 spoonful” strategy
If you want to try everything, then just try 1 or 2 spoonfuls to get the taste (and show your appreciation to the party host). Then, decide which dishes you really want to eat a lot of. That’s better than loading up your plate with every dish that’s served.
Limit party leftovers
It’s one thing to enjoy the food at the party, and another thing to keep eating those high-calorie dishes for days. If you’re hosting the party, give away leftovers to your guests (stock up on small plastic containers just for this purpose).
Or, reinvent dishes into healthier versions. Chop up the leftover meat and add to a hearty salad. Pick out the toppings from the noodle dish, and just eat that on its own.
Pay attention to your moods
Holiday stress can easily lead to holiday stress eating. If you’re feeling tired, sad or overstimulated, then feed your spirit not your body. Go to the spa, read a book, watch a funny movie, or just take much-needed quiet time. If you’re in a good mood, you’re in a better position to make better food choices.
Pick other ways to bond
Holiday reunions don’t have to center around heavy meals. Consider inviting friends to the spa or salon (check our Singapore beauty directory!) a concert, a play, a round of bowling or tennis (or any sport you both enjoy), or a quiet conversation over (low calorie) tea. You don’t always have dinner or drinks.
Set a (realistic) holiday goal
One way to avoid holiday weight gain is to have a clear, concrete but very achievable weight goal. For example, “I’ll only gain 5 pounds” — which is easy enough to burn in January. Or, if you’re dead-set on losing weight, “I want to look good in my swimsuit when we go on that vacation.”
Those goals are a lot more specific than a vague “I won’t get fat!” and help you set limits on what you eat, without feeling deprived or guilty.