The winter holidays are fast approaching. And with it all the delicious calorie bombs that make the walk to the scale super scary. But this year you are prepared. Here are 17 tips on how to enjoy the cold season and defeat winter weight gain at the same time.
A. Conquer overeating
Let’s be honest here. One of the reasons why we gain weight in the winter months is because we are just so damn popular. We have to attend so many social gatherings that unfortunately include great smelling and looking food. And because we don’t want to be rude and hope for an invite next year, we will gladly sacrifice ourselves and try ever little item that’s been offered.
After all we want to be a fair judge. Regrettably, all these treats expand our calorie bank over our boundary. So what to do?
Eat healthy before you go. By the time you’ve reached the gathering site the sensory system (eyes and nose) have been satisfied and won’t get excited as much. It is hard to overeat with an already full stomach.
Drink a big glass of water before you eat. If #1 wasn’t for you then try to get the same result with drinking a glass of water. Gobbling down sweets or a turkey breast just seems less appealing.
Eat salads and veggies first. Veggies and salads are normally low in calories (depending on the salad dressing or dip), nutritious and filling. Make a pact with yourself. After you have eaten a plate full of greens you can dig into whatever comes your way. (See also: How to make a healthy salad)
Have tiny bits. If the host of the gathering sets out a buffet then think of yourself as a tiny little bird (or any kind of tiny animal for that matter). Only put tiny bits and pieces on our plate and if you are still hungry come back for more.
Other guests of the party will think that you are the most civilized person on the planet (and might invite you to their party as well).
Give yourself time to enjoy the food. Yes, I know. I’m like that too. I have to take my chances before they are gone. Who knows what crumbs will be left in an hour. Even if you leave the party hungry, what are the chances that you are going to die of starvation?
Never eat because of boredom. You don’t know anyone at the gathering and because you don’t want the situation to be awkward the server and chef becomes your best friend for the night? No! Get out there and introduce yourself to the world, make new friends or move on to the next party. You need a conversation starter?
Well, you know my grandmother used to make these delicious marzipan balls in the form of a baby potato and she hid them away in a beautiful metal box in the pantry ….
B. Master eating nutritious food
The second reason why we gain weight in winter is because we eat less nutrient-dense foods like fresh salads, fruits and vegetables and replace them with foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutrients. And this is also the reason why we more often get sick in the winter.
We eat less nutrient dense food and have more sugary foods while we actually need more nutrients during winter to stay healthy. Sugar uses up your body’s stores of vitamins and minerals and provides next to none.
Eat nutrient dense food. Note mentally every time you dive into the cookie jar, peanut butter cup or candy bar. Make a deal with your stomach. For every sugary treat that finds its way into your mouth, you have to eat some raw cucumber, raw pumpkin seeds or ½ an apple.
Have a side of salad or vegetables. Make sure you eat nutrient dense greens every day. The lettuce leaf and the slice of tomato on your burger DO NOT count as such. Nutrient dense food will fight cravings and helps you to avoid winter weight gain.
C. Defeat overdrinking
Yes, with winter we also celebrate the inventions of yummy beverages like pumpkin spice latte, eggnog, Feuerzangenbowle or Baily’s induced coffee. Non-alcoholic or not, the drinks that are supposed to keep us warm in cold winter nights bring comfort but also know how to pack a punch.
Keep the winter specials extraordinary. Yes, you are right. The season will be over soon and then you have to wait approximately another 10 month until eggnog and Co. will return into your life. But that doesn’t mean that you have to knock yourself out with these drinks until your taste buds are sick of them. To celebrate something means to worship and respect something, not to overdo it.
Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will you be the go-to person the next day in regards to “Do you remember what happened …” but also you will help your body stay healthy and fit. Alcohol puts a break on burning calories from food. And alcohol also has a damaging effect on your cells. Less alcohol = less calories = more memory = better health & appearance = more fun.
Pick beverages that are lower in calories. Say yes to “hold the whip” on the pumpkin spice latte. Spice mulled wine with cinnamon, cardamom or a slice or orange. How about a cider or a virgin version of your most favorite cocktail? Or at least support digestion with a classic aperitif or digestive. (See also: Low calorie alcoholic drinks)
Stay hydrated. In summer we tend to drink more water because it is hot. We also like to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, which naturally contain more water. Water is crucial for a healthy body and for weight loss. And often an appetite for food is confused with being thirsty for water. So make drinking water (or if you prefer hot tea) a priority during winter.
C. Combat Holiday stress
Stress is counterproductive. Stress makes us eat more calorie bombs. Stress makes us drink more alcohol. Stress just makes us feel terrible sorry for ourselves so we don’t want to get out of bed. To fight winter weight gain we have to combat stress.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial. Not enough sleep just does weird things to your body. If you want to fight winter gain, you have to be on top of the game and sleep is one of the superpowers. What superhero ever wins a battle bleary-eyed?
Get exercise. Even though the bank, supermarket, friend’s house is just around the corner, in winter we rather take the car instead of walking. So not only are we likely to consume more calories, we also use up less of these calories. (See also: Winter workout safety tips)
Make appointments for exercise. Join an indoor cycling class. Learn how to swim. Go skiing, snow shoeing, ice-skating. Winter is no excuse for falling into hibernation mode. And the best thing, exercise is an instant happiness booster and stress fighter.
Get outside. We love sun for a reason. Not only does the sun warm our cheeks nicely we also need sunlight to make vitamin D. A deficiency in vitamin D is linked to mood disorders. Try to catch as many rays as possible from the spare natural sunlight.
Think positive. Arg! Cold winds, icy snow, wet rain. Hate it! Better crawl up on the couch. Put the blanket over my head and not come out until spring has arrived. Well, we can’t change the weather. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Find positive twists about any situation. You got this!
Shop online. You love Thanksgiving more because it gives you the turkey without all the stressful gift giving chores? If you can’t outsource the gift shopping to your siblings or friends, then do it online. That goes against rule #14 and #15 but at least it makes for a peaceful shopping experience.
Happy holidays everyone!