Diana Kelly Levey

How Nutritionists Lose Weight Over the Holidays

unsplash. chocolate chip cookies with powdered sugar, a candy cane, and cookies on a tray

November 9, 2020 | Categories:

Wondering how certain women seem to maintain their weight with ease during the holidays while the rest of us are white-knuckling the minefields of fattening foods at every turn? Nutritionists understand that the holidays are chock-full of eating challenges, but they often advise clients that in order to lose weight or maintain your weight during the eating season, you have to be mindful of what you’re eating, indulge in special foods you’re excited about, and stop digging in when you’re full. Here’s how nutrition experts lose weight over the holidays and face the new year without any unwanted weight gain.

How Nutrition Experts Avoid Gaining Weight During the Holidays

Use the Half-Plate Rule at Parties

“I like to use this rule for all meals, but it’s especially helpful during the holiday season,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. “Instead of piling your plate with everything you want at a party buffet, first take a survey of the offerings and decide on the few you must try—then fill no more than half of your plate with those.” Use the remaining space for veggies and fruit, she suggests. Covering half of your plate with produce at every meal is an easy way to fill up on low-calorie, nutrient-rich food during the holidays and all year long, Gorin suggests. Discover the foods health experts never eat.

Mind the Excess in Your Diet

When she wants to lose weight after an indulgent weekend or vacation, Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator and author of Read It Before You Eat It, says she pays attention to the places in her diet where excess calories rack up the fastest. “I adore nuts and have them every day. I add them to cold cereal, use them as a crust for fish and chicken, and mix them in with roasted veggies. If I wanted to cut back, I’d trim down my portions of nuts.” She said the same goes for wine. “If I were having wine several days in a row, I might cut back by drinking sparkling water with a splash of pomegranate juice,” she says. Taub-Dix says she does things that give her pleasure while cutting back, like making a nice cup of herbal tea in a beautiful teapot. Start your own no-calorie ritual with a mug of herbal tea, turn on your favorite music, or pick up a good book and put your feet up. Ahh, isn’t that better?

Add Protein to Your Meals

There are so many delicious holiday sweets around this time of year, so it’s important to focus on adding filling protein to your meals so you feel fuller for longer,” says Gorin. If you wait till after a protein-rich meal to reach for the holiday cookies, you’re likely to eat less of them, she says! “One of my favorite ways to easily add protein to any meal are pulses, which are beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dried peas. They offer about eight grams of protein per ½ cup cooked—and you can easily puree white beans into a breakfast smoothie or roast chickpeas and use them in lieu of croutons on a salad. Other great proteins to reach for are salmon, chicken breast, and tofu, Gorin says.

Quench Your Thirst First

Did you know that our hunger and thirst centers are right next to each other in the brain? “Often, our bodies confuse thirst for hunger, says Mascha Davis, MPH, RD. To avoid this pitfall, drink plenty of water before starting your meal and while you eat. Davis says she likes to make ‘spa’ water for herself and her guests with fresh lemons, limes, cucumbers, and cranberries.

Save Your Calories

When you’re at a party and there are passed hors-d’oeuvres like pigs in a blanket, or something that looks like it came from the freezer, consider passing on that food and waiting to delight in a homemade holiday food that’s special and unique. “Save your calories for something better and homemade,” suggests Taub-Dix. If you love eggnog and you enjoy drinking some on New Year’s Eve every year, then, by all means, go ahead and sip a glass of the creamy beverage, she suggests. We’ll toast to that!

Hesitate Before Mindless Munching

While it’s smart to plan out those nutritious meals and snacks like Gorin suggested, Davis suggests asking yourself a few questions before you pick up a passed appetizer or go back for seconds during a special meal. Pause for a moment and take some breaths and check in. Are you truly hungry? Are you getting full? And are you in tune with your system? Let go of the idea that you ‘have to’ stuff yourself because it’s Thanksgiving,” Davis says. “Indulge, enjoy the food, and then stop eating when it’s comfortable. The leftovers aren’t going anywhere.”

Plan Out Mindful Eating

“With all the tempting food around, it’s important to plan out healthy snacks to help tide you over so you don’t get “hangry” (hungry + angry) and want to eat everything in sight,” says Gorin. Plan to have a meal or snack every three to five hours—and reach for filling, healthy snacks, she advises. “One of my favorites to have on hand (I keep some in my purse at all times!) are pistachios, which offer a trio of satiating plant protein, fiber, and healthy fats. I love that the act of shelling the pistachios, plus the visual cue of doing so, helps you slow down and eat less,” says Gorin. In a study in Appetite, people who ate in-shell pistachios took in 41 percent fewer calories compared to volunteers snacking on the shelled version.

Make Healthy Twists on Favorite Recipes

Experiment this holiday season by making healthier versions of traditional recipes that can taste just as good—if not better—than the fattier version that’s been made in your family for years, suggests Davis. Look for healthier holiday recipes that are packed with more of the good stuff you want, like fiber-rich veggies, and less saturated fat, suggests Davis. “Step out of your routine and remake a recipe you think could use a little health boost—it just may become the new holiday favorite,” Davis says.

Read the full article on Doctor Oz.

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