Christmas and New Year's is around the corner and it is the time of joy and happiness. You will be visiting a lot of family and friends and surrounded by a lot of delicious food. You may be able to control it on some occasions and there would be some where you absolutely give in.
In this piece, I shall be covering how to manage the holiday eating and what to do if you slip?
Let me help out the folks who are dieting first and are watching their calories for quite some time. Considering they are aware of the upcoming event, here are a few steps:
1. Plan ahead: This is a simple case of budgeting and lending your calories to a particular day. Let's say you are dieting at 2000 kcals and have a party to attend after 5 days.
You could simply cut your calories by 10-20% for the upcoming days and have more on the day you have the party.
For example, if you cut 10% calories (200 kcals) for the next 5 days, you have 1000 kcals extra to consume on the day you are eating out. It will be 2000 kcals extra if you cut 20% calories.
I do not recommend more than 20 or 25% as it may affect your mood, satiety, and performance in the gym.
2. Intermittent fasting: Let's say you did not plan ahead and the day has arrived, you could fast till the party to save your calories for the end of the day or for the party where you still have a little control over the calories consumed for the day. Intermittent fasting often has to be paired with mindful eating during the event so that you are still on track with progress.
More often than not, I do not find IF to be a good tool because practically I do very bad on it. In those cases, I do it in a different way as mentioned in the next step.
3. Load up on low-cal options through the day and pre-event: This is a strategy I am a big fan of myself. If there is an event, I will make sure to have some lean protein and some low-cal fibrous foods like fruits and veggies during the day with some low-cal beverages as well.
Before going to the event as well, I have a salad with a protein shake or a diet soda to ensure that I am not hovering the food counters and turning it into an eat-all-you-can fest.
This is us considering the best case scenario that we had enough time to plan ahead and/or read my words of wisdom here. But what if, you did not?
What if the universe conspired against you and this article never popped up on your feed before the event?
Worry not, I got you!
4. Calm down: Okay so you binged like a maniac, now what? The world is coming to an end or it seems like the climax of the movie 2012 is going to happen inside your body and everything is going to be destroyed?
Sarcasm aside (not proud of the fact that I have to say it is sarcasm), really, chill. The one thing that people often do during such times is aggressively cut food intake for the next few days.
It will help you overcome your guilt a bit but it is also forming a bad habit. You will do this in future and not care about my top 3 steps ever, which is not cool.
But seriously, relax. It was just a day or a few. If you have been doing things meticulously for most of the year, a few days isn't going to hurt it big time.
5. Get back to normal: A logical extension of step four. Do not cut down on food aggressively and start your plan again. You will be set back by a week or two in your progress but hey, it's about the habits.
You are forming good habits and the way I see it, you will make progress and you enjoyed the festivities. This is a win-win for me.
6. Drink up: A lot of times, the food prepared outside has a lot of sodium in it which leaves you thirsty and us mortals aren't that great at understanding hunger, the reason we gain the extra weight in the first place.
We often consider thirst for hunger and overeat. So load up on the fluids so that you do not overeat again.
7. Prevent future binges: Maybe this time only the steps four, five, and six applied to you this time. But you did read this piece and gained some good info. Apply one, two, and three next time and kick the guilt out.
It will also allow you to enjoy your holidays or social gatherings.
Oh and I absolutely forgot this nugget:
Do not form an emotional relationship with your scale for the next TEN days. It takes you to eat an extra of 3500 kcals to gain an exclusive pound (~0.5 kilos) of fat. Firstly, it is a TON of food. Secondly, you cannot store all the calories you over ate (at least short-term) as fat. You can gain 6-8 pounds (~3 to 6 kilos) due to water, muscle glycogen, food in the gut, sub-cutaneous water.
In a matter of 7-10 days, you will be back to where you were after this holiday meal or binge. Until then, do not love your scale or take its opinion seriously.