Ways To Undo Holiday Eating
The holidays have a way of making us all feel a little bit bloated. It’s a time of year when everybody wants to get together for special brunches, cocktail parties, dinner parties, cookie-making parties…every party basically has some food-related word in the title. And of course nobody is serving baked salmon and arugula salad at these parties. Nope—this is a time when friends and family want to show off their more decadent recipes. It seems every piece of meat is wrapped in filo dough and every appetizer involves a lot of cheese. Even if you show restraint, you still wind up eating more than you normally would. Sure, you only eat the daily holiday treats in the office break room twice a week but, when it isn’t the holidays, you eat such things zero times a week. It all adds up fast. But once everyone packs their bags and returns to real life, you don’t have your equally-bloated companions around to make you feel okay about all that food. It’s time to face the music. Here are ways to undo bad holiday eating.
Remember that food is love
First, don’t beat yourself up about it. Try to remember that everyone eats a little too much around the holidays and that everyone in your life was just showing you their love for you, through food. You enjoyed those meals, didn’t you? And that time with loved ones? So then don’t think negatively of the food that surrounded them.
This is a good time to go on a sweets cleanse. You probably had a little something sweet every day for the last few weeks. Every store counter and friend’s table had a bowl of goodies. Now it’s time to give sugar a rest. Lock up all those boxes of chocolate you received over the holidays and save them for guests.
Make a meal plan
Making a plan and setting goals will help you stay focused. Without a plan, it’s too easy to say yes to the mac and cheese casserole your neighbor brings over. Set a menu for each day. Prep ingredients early. You’ll have an easier time turning down surprise indulgences when you know you have another yummy (but healthier) meal waiting for you.
Switch to complex carbs
Most of the carbs you’ve been eating have probably been anything but complex. Sugar cookies and bagel spreads don’t exactly boast fiber. Make sure every carb that touches your tongue is complex. Think rye bread, bran cereal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. These will actually suppress your appetite rather than increase it the way empty carbs do.
Have light, carb-free dinners
Make dinners light, and carb-free. It can be hard to cut carbs completely during the day because they provide brain food that you need while you’re working. But when you’re asleep, you don’t need carbs. Keep dinners to lean protein and veggies. You’ll see that tummy flattening fast.
Mix in liquids
Every day—or other day, if daily is too much—substitute one food with liquids. Have a smoothie for breakfast, or pressed juice for your snack instead of a mini sandwich. Staying hydrated will flush out some of the bad foods you’ve been eating, and help you consume fewer calories.
Don’t just slash 1,000 calories from your daily diet right away. Your stomach has probably expanded a bit from all the holiday eating, which means you’ll feel extra hungry if you eat a low-calorie diet. You have to ease into it. You can cut 300 calories one day, 400 the next, 500 the next, and so on.
Give away your leftovers
Your fridge is probably stocked with leftovers. Cheesecakes you didn’t get around to eating and trays of gravy-smothered meatballs. Consider making some care packages of food and delivering them to homeless communities.
Visit a Farmer’s market
Visiting your local Farmer’s market will put you back in that healthy mindset. Seeing all of that beautiful, fresh produce will make healthy food look enticing again. You’ve seen a lot of frosting and bread recently. Re-train your brain to see fruits and veggies as gorgeous and appealing (just know how to work the Farmer’s Market).
Make all meals from scratch
Set out to make all of your meals from scratch for at least one week. It’s amazing how this can help you rapidly cut calories. Even if you tend to eat at healthy restaurants, restaurant portions are usually too large. You can control what you eat more at home.
Face the skinny-jeans music
Stop hiding from your skinny jeans and other fitted clothing. You’ve been escaping to stretchy pants and big sweaters, haven’t you? But that leaves you in denial. Put on those skinny jeans. Get a good grasp on what’s happened.
Give the scale a break
While putting on your fitted clothes can be helpful, stepping on the scale multiple times a day won’t be. Remember you may put on water weight by mixing in those liquid meals, and your weight fluctuates a lot throughout the day and even week for various reasons. Wait to get on the scale until you’ve been back on a healthy regiment for at least two weeks.
Eliminate all snacks
Eliminating snacks—really, truly, militantly removing them—can help you reach some weight loss goals quickly. We don’t realize how many extra calories we rack up just by having a yogurt here and a peanut butter sandwich there. Those snacks alone could be 500 calories.
Have breakfast alone
If you’ve had visitors or been visiting family, then breakfast has probably been a whole ordeal. There have been generous spreads of pastries, smoked salmon, pancakes, eggs benedict and the like. But breakfast should be simple. Egg whites with spinach and rye toast is perfect. Have breakfast alone—meet your friends after—to encourage a simpler meal.
You may want to go on a little social hiatus. All of those parties were how you got yourself into this predicament in the first place. Take a week off of happy hours with friends, dinner out with friends, and weekend brunches. Have a quiet week. Your psyche could probably use it, anyways.