French Strategies for Holiday Eating

With Christmas approaching and New Year’s just around the corner, we are heading into a very busy week of shopping, family gatherings, and many, many indulgences. In fact, all of these indulgences – a little wine, a few cookies, and and extra helpings of mashed potatoes – can add up to 7 to 10 pounds of weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
12.21 Christmas cookies: http://www.flickr.com/photos/85966598@N00/94535514
If you are one of the millions of Americans concerned about holiday weight gain, fear not! There are a few very simple things you can do avoid holiday weight gain but still ring in the New Year in a festive and food-filled way. I have mentioned in previous posts that French women have an inherent skill of indulging in all things delicious, yet they manage to keep their weight down to well below US obesity standards. Although the French way of eating can be practiced all year round, these French diet strategies can especially be applied to the holiday season. 
French Strategies for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
  1. Be a Water Girl: Drink water all day long. Not flavored water, not sparkling water, just plain old water. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can help you feel full, which can help stop unnecessary eating. 
  2. Run, Run, Rudolph: MOVE! This can mean going for a run a few times a week, practicing yoga, or taking an extra few laps around the mall while shopping. The key is to do something active everyday, above and beyond your normal activity level.
  3. Au Natural Choices: When given a choice in dinner foods or even appetizers, go for the natural foods first. Natural foods are those that most resemble foods in their original state, like cheese (not cheese puffs) with a slice of bread, raw veggies with yogurt dip, and fresh fruit.
  4. All things in moderation: If you do choose to eat foods that are less natural, such as your aunt’s casserole, take one small scoop and enjoy. After all, science has shown that even our favorite foods lose their luster after just a few bites. By eating indulgences in moderation, you can savor each bite knowing that you’re consuming fewer calories. 
  5. Picky Indulgences: During the holidays, when there’s more than enough food to go around, choose your indulgences wisely. It’s true that the holidays are a time of celebration, but why overeat on average foods, like chips and store-bought cookies? Save your appetite and calories for top-quality foods and/or foods that you can only get this time of year.
  6. Plan of Attack: Whether it’s the office holiday party or a New Year’s day football extravaganza, come prepared with a party plan. If you know the fiesta will include high-calorie appetizers that you just can’t resist, scale back the day before and/or day of the party. Focus on eating foods that are high in nutrition but lower in calories, like salads and broth-based veggie soups. 
  7. Back Up Plan: If your indulgences do end up getting the best of you, spend the next week (or even month) getting yourself back on track. Make adjustments to meals by swapping in healthier foods, or eliminating unnecessary snacks. If this doesn’t seem to be working, modify your exercise routine for a week or two by adding an extra day at the gym or taking a few extra walks with your friends. By making these small adjustments, you should be back to your old self, and weight within a few weeks.

Joyeux Noel Everyone!