I can’t believe we are closing out the first week of December and only 17 days away from Christmas. In the Fit and Frugal Mommy household, Christmas gatherings are in full swing. We don’t have a free weekend until January! With each of these holiday events, there will be a lot of food, drinks and temptations. Every year I ask myself the same question: “How can I avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain?”
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Every year I try to restrict what I am “allowed” to have at any holiday event and it always ends the same way:
I eat one thing I am not supposed to have and assume my diet is ruined. I proceed to eat everything and anything that is offered to me for the rest of the holiday season because it’s the holidays, I’ve already screwed up and once all the food is gone I will no longer be tempted. (Queue one million other excuses)
This is how it has always been every year, yet I continue to try the same tactic. You know what they say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results“. How true is that? So finally I decided I was going to take a different approach this year. I was going to eat all the things.
The Secret to Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
You may now be thinking, okay, okay, how does this differ from the end result I have every year? I always eat all the things that’s the problem. But, what if that’s not the problem?
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I think what really needs to happen here is that we need to change our perspective. At the very least, I need to change mine. I have become so obsessed with ensuring that I don’t gain weight over the holidays that it adds on to the holiday stress I already have. When I am constantly telling myself “No, you can’t have this”, “That’s off limits” and every other no under the sun, it’s so much easier for me to fail. If I have any off limit food, suddenly I have failed and there is no more point in trying. What if there was no off limit food, so there could be no failure?
It’s really hard to quit something that you can’t fail, or maybe never even committed to. I decided to test this theory out during a weekend of Thanksgiving dinners with all of our family. Surely, with three Thanksgiving dinners in a row, and no off limit foods, I didn’t stand a chance.
The Thanksgiving Test
Over the course of the three Thanksgiving dinners, I took everything I wanted, but only a tablespoon or so of it. With all of the delicious food that had been made, about a tablespoon of each thing – or a 3oz portion of meat – still gave me a full plate. I enjoyed my meal, spoke with family and at the end of the plate I had found that I was fairly full and every craving I had was satisfied. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider having more mashed potatoes, but I knew dessert was next.
Would you believe that at one of my Thanksgivings there were FOUR pies? This has always boggled my mind. Maybe that is the norm for your thanksgiving but it was not mine growing up. Pecan and pumpkin are my absolute favorites and I can’t say no. So I didn’t. I had a sliver of each of those two pies. They were absolutely delicious and again, I was satisfied.
Three crazy things happened at the end of this experiment:
- I maintained my weight through the holidays (no gain).
- I ate everything that I wanted and didn’t miss out on any of my holiday favorites.
- I didn’t stress and I didn’t fail.
Ultimately if we really break down the secret to avoiding weight gain over the holidays, it boils down to portion control and mindful eating. For the first time ever, I left Thanksgiving dinners happy and satisfied without my stomach bursting at the seams. Thanksgiving pants? Not for this girl.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is a technique that can help you take control of your eating habits. Over this past year I have worked on my relationship with food. Mindful eating has been proven to reduce binge eating, increase weight loss and help you feel better. At it’s core, it’s focusing on your body when you’re eating. Noticing how the food makes you feel, how it tastes and when you feel full. During my Thanksgiving dinner I was able to enjoy each food without leaving overfull.
I’ve had to reevaluate how I define failure and success. One Oreo doesn’t mean failure and you know what? Neither does an entire sleeve. That doesn’t derail your health journey and neither will indulging through the holidays. So long as we are consciously making steps in the right direction, you will get there.
Sometimes we can get so stressed out about our goals that we forget to live. It’s Christmas! There will be cookies, there will be mashed potatoes and hopefully there will be wine. I’m in it for the long haul and I’m going to enjoy my mashed potatoes with gravy.
How do you stay on track over the holidays? Let me know in the comments below!