With the holidays quickly approaching, there is a sense of excitement wherever we go. Thanksgiving and Christmas change the normalcy in our lives as the kids are home on a school break, we’re spending time with family we don’t normally see, and we eat like Kings.
And even as a fitness expert, yes, I love to eat! Seriously, the spreads this time of year are amazing. I remember up until a few years ago how my holiday eating would go and it never ended in me feeling amazing afterward.
I would stack my plate during the meal with everything served on the table. I’d take care of my first plate and then go back and make a second plate of the foods I particularly liked and I would then be completely stuffed like the turkey I just ate.
Thirty minutes later the dessert table is ready and even though I’m still full from dinner and knowing I was going to feel awful afterward, I filled up my plate anyways. How many of you can relate? My holiday revolved around food and I never stopped eating.
Maybe I ate like that because I was raised in a house where I was taught to never waste food and to always clean my plate. I was more of a man if I could eat 2 big plates versus 1 like it was more impressive or something. But hell, who was I trying to impress.
Trust me guys, the ladies aren’t going to come running because you can clean your plate and hers. It’s really not attractive or macho.
Eating like this had become a habit during the holidays and once I took back control of my eating habit, dinners were so much more enjoyable. I no longer feel like a stuffed pig waiting to get home into my stretchy pants to lay back on the couch and recover from what I just fed myself.
If you can relate to any of this then keep reading. I’m going to share 10 tips with you to help you get more enjoyment out of your next holiday meal!
10 Tips To Conquer Your Next Holiday Meal
1) Drink water – I talk about this tip in my book, “Six Weeks to Lean” and it’s something you can begin to employ immediately. Before you sit down to eat you should drink 8 oz. of water. This will trick your body into feeling full and you won’t gorge yourself so much at the dinner table.
It’s a trick I employed in my body transformation and one that works well during the holidays when you know you’re going to eat more calories than you can burn.
2) Eat the healthier dishes first – There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to holiday dinner time and by taking in the healthier choices first then you won’t be so tempted to go all out on the dishes that do nothing for your waistline.
Healthy dishes include lean meat, grilled veggies, fattier foods like deviled eggs, walnuts, avocado, and bacon-wrapped green beans.
You want to choose the higher-fat foods because they will keep you full longer than processed carbs.
3) Eat small portions – The holiday spread is incredible isn’t it. There is always so much food and I always want to be sure I get my hands on all of it. How do you do that without the guilt and the feeling of being overweight?
The trick is to eat it all, but do it in smaller portions. Think of your plate as a sampler platter. Not only does this allow you to taste everything at the table but it will save you room on the dishes you really enjoy.
4) Don’t fill up your plate – I know how this works. It’s like this in every American home across the nation. We have big plates and during the holidays I will try and maximize every inch of that plate with food.
It’s like going to the buffet bar and stacking your plate because you know it’s all you can eat and you plan on getting more than your money paid out of it.
Well, here’s the secret. You don’t have to fill your plate up. What? Yeah, seriously. Just because you have a big plate doesn’t mean you to have filled every inch of it with food.
Try this out next time you’re fixing your plate. Get a small portion of everything you’d like to eat without filling your plate entirely.
Once you’re finished with that plate and find yourself still hungry. Go back for more. I assure you, you’re not going to go hungry or miss out on your favorite holiday dish.
5) Chew slowly – Another tip in “Six Weeks to Lean” and one you should practice daily.
By chewing your food slowly you are giving your body time to digest the food you take in.
By chewing your food slowly you are giving your body time to digest the food you take in.
Ever sit in front of the television with a plate of food and then wonder where the hell all the food went? You’re aimlessly eating and I bet 100% of Americans have fallen victim to this.
By chewing slowly and decisively you are taking control of the calories you take in. I remember being in Basic Training with the Air Force and having to scarf down our food each meal. I ended up taking this habit home with me and had to retrain myself to eat slower and deliberately.
Chewing slowly may seem awkward at first but is one of the best habits you can practice to thin your waistline. You’ll become fuller faster and will be less tempted to over-indulge yourself. It seems we lose control of ourselves when it comes to eating during the holidays.
But, can you blame us? Food is everywhere and it’s so good. Some family dishes are only made once a year. How and why should we pass those up? Don’t do it.
Slow your chewing down and enjoy the meal in front of you a little longer. You’ll be glad you did.
6) Fast before your meal – I’ve talked about this before when it comes to cheating meals and it’s so good it’s worth repeating. Think of holiday dining as one big cheat meal and you’re all set.
If I know I’m going to have a cheat meal, a way I can take in fewer calories in preparation for it is by fasting. 5-6 hours before my big meal, I eat nothing. Yes, I will be super hungry come meal time and yes I am going to make sure I am full when it’s all said and done.
7) Eat Until 80% Full – Here’s the trick with this. You’re not going to realize that you’re 80% full unless you are eating in awareness so you need to utilize the previous trick in this post to take advantage of this one.
This means you’re going to need to chew slowly. But how do you know once you’ve achieved 80% fullness? You know that bloated feeling you get from eating too much? 80% full means you’re going to stop eating way before you ever get there.
That’s the good news because no one likes feeling that way unless they like banging their head on a low ceiling.
80% full means you are going to stop eating once your hunger has dissipated. You only eat enough to keep you full until your next meal.
This sounds a lot easier than it actually is. When I was in the midst of my transformation I would use this tip and there would be times under stress that I wanted to continue eating. When I didn’t stop and listen to my own rule I would feel guilty about it, especially if I ate too much.
Give this one a try but don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t get it right the first few times. It’s easy to cheat on this one during times of hunger.
8) Sample the dessert table – I’d be a fool to tell you to stay away from the dessert table during the holidays. Though it sounds good in principle, it’s not a fun way to enjoy the holidays when you place a bunch of restrictions on yourself.
Here in the South, desserts are plentiful during this time of year and you shouldn’t deny yourself of it if that’s what you really want but you do need to be smart about it.
You know those big pieces of pie and cake your grandma cuts for you? Yeah, say goodbye to those. If you’re going to take part in sweets you are looking for a small quantity. So go ahead and enjoy that pecan pie but do it in small doses.
You can cure that sweet tooth with just a small piece and leave room for fudge too. Keeping the pieces small allows you to enjoy the desserts while managing your waistline.
Just remember to chew slowly and eat to 80% full as well. That means if you’re going to have dessert than don’t eat to 80% full of the main course. Leave room in your belly for the good stuff!
9) Have a plan – If you go into the holiday meal without a plan in your head, you’re going to walk away from the meal a trainwreck. Habit will take over and you’ll find yourself stuffing your face.
Know how you’re going to manage your meal before you arrive to eat. Think of it like you would a trip to the gym. You need to know what you’re going to do before you arrive, don’t you? Otherwise, you’re going to waste your time going from one piece of equipment to another with no method to what you’re doing. What can you accomplish this way?
The average person spends so much time thinking that they need to go to a gym to lose weight and they forget that 75% of the battle is the amount of food they put in their mouth. Don’t let that be you.
Have an idea about what foods you’re going to eat. Imagine what your plate should look like. You’ll be more likely to stick to a gameplan but first, you need a gameplan to stick too.
With proper planning, you can use the holiday meal as your cheat meal, fast before you arrive, stack your plate properly, eat to your 80% full and then enjoy dessert without feeling guilty afterward.
Doesn’t that sound a lot better than being fat and bloated?
10) Don’t forget the gym! – One of the many advantages of being a member of CrossFit Jacked is that we didn’t forget that you still need to work out even when it’s a holiday. That’s why we had Open Gym available Thanksgiving morning. Think of it as an advantage to your holiday mealtime.
By getting a holiday workout in you can go into your family meal with a sense of confidence that you earned your ticket to eat more. When we workout, we burn calories. I give you permission this holiday to eat those burned calories during your family holiday meal.
Until next time….Stay Jacked, Stay Strong!