Having tried the tips below during Thanksgiving, I can now tell you from first hand experience that it is possible to stick to your diet during the Holidays, have a good time and lose weight as a result. I had to admit that as Thanksgiving was getting closer I was nervous that all my efforts from the previous weeks were going to be in vain as I normally do gain a few pounds after the celebrations. Armed with some motivation and the tips below, I lost half a pound in 2 days. I am now planning to use the same tricks for Christmas and New Years!
- Make the Holiday a Protein-Vegetable day: You will be less tempted to cheat if you are allowed vegetables. Follow up and be back on track by making the following 2 days protein only days.
- Make your proteins yummier than ever! The good news is that almost always the main or center plate of all holiday tables is some sort of protein: Turkey, Roast, Pork shoulder, Ham, Seafood. Now, during the Holidays, I let go of the "lean meat" requirement for a little indulgence and allowed myself to truly enjoy the dish as it comes. This indulgence allowed me to survived no eating the stuffing or the starchy side dishes! If you cook, you can control the fat a little. I made a Pancetta Wrapped Turkey breast stuffed with Pesto, Pancetta and Cream cheese. I used low fat cream cheese and trimmed as much of the fat from the pancetta as I could. But as you can see, I did enjoyed a fantastic dish to remind me that it was a Holiday after all.
- Make your favorite-ever vegetable side dishes: I did not want to be tempted by the mashed potatoes and not allowed side dishes, so I made my favorite (and here is the trick - it needs to be your favorite ever!) vegetable side dish. I did a Caprese salad with fresh part-skimmed mozzarella! Again, do not worry much about fats - something has to give in so fat is not as bad than starches (for one day only!)
- Make your favorite-ever starters and Hors d'oeuvres: The trick here is to indulge (that is what the Holiday food is about, comfort and indulgence!). So go for those protein or vegetables that you love and do not have often. I went for Oysters, Salmon caviar and Avocado wrapped in Parma ham (stripped of the fat bits)
- Stay away from alcohol! This was the most difficult for me - I love my wine while cooking so it as particularly hard. I tried sparkling soda water with a lime wedge to take edge of my wine cravings.
- Up the exercise: increase your activity as much as you can, walk an extra few minutes or walk twice a day. it does not matter what you do as long as you move more.
- Eat your grandma's pie but less of it. There is no point in upsetting your grandma! if there is really that special dish that your family makes only once a year, please eat it or you will regret it and then eat something worse a day later. Just eat less of it. A good trick is to serve your self the amount that you are used to eat, then cut it in half and put one half away. Start eating the other half and make a conscious effort to stop half way. You will only eat a quarter of the normal amount without realizing it. Sometimes, even a bite is enough to stop your cravings.
- Have a good time! enjoy yourself really, there is no point otherwise.
I do hope we all find the will to stick to our diets during the holidays!! and if you know of any other tricks, please share!