Holiday Food Game Plan: How To Indulge And Not Gain Weight
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The end of 2022 is almost upon us. That means holidays, travel, spending quality time with family, and a lot of good food. But many of us have been lax about fitness and health on account of the pandemic, lockdowns, etc., and are beginning to look like muffin tops. The bit of indulgence we allowed ourselves when it seemed like the world was coming to an end has now ballooned into a few excess kilos. That’s why the voice in the back of your head is wondering about what to eat during your vacation so you won’t put on even more weight.

Well, fret not. We’ve listed a few easy-to-follow guidelines that will help you partake in the joys of the holiday week that’s coming up without gaining any more weight. We know there will be a few epic meals, some that make you go, "What’s the point of life if I can’t enjoy even this?" We hear you, and we don’t want you to turn into either a food tyrant or a hedonist. All we ask is that you keep one thing in mind: listen to your gut. Ok, here we go.

A one-time epic meal will not harm you.

It’s not the one large, indulgent meal with the family, where you eat to your absolute limit, that is the problem. Your system will recover from a one-off epic indulgence just fine, in a matter of days or a few weeks at most. Large meals mean more consumption of sodium and carbohydrates, which cause more water retention in the body. This is what leads to a spike in weight immediately after a festival meal. But it gets resolved if you go back to normal after that, and it can be relegated to the past as a temporary blip. There is no impact on long-term fat levels, metabolism, fitness, etc.

Eat more protein

A healthy breakfast is the secret to guilt-free vacations. Proteins make us feel satiated and ensure we do not eat too much junk. Vacations or travel, with complimentary breakfasts and lavish brunch or dinner buffets, can be a temptation on a daily basis. But they also allow you to pile on the good stuff. Make sure your breakfast contains enough protein to keep you full throughout the day. That allows you to eat smaller portions of the indulgent food, to enjoy the taste, and to participate in the occasion without feeling guilty.

Don't let your guard down when it comes to leftovers.

The problem begins when you allow that one large meal to turn into another and another over the course of a week or two. Then you enter troubled waters. Dropping your guard and letting go with a "what the hell" attitude can wreak havoc on your body.

For example, if you’re hosting a party at home, it’s natural to have a lot of leftovers that you hope to finish over the course of the next few days. But you must not drop your discipline here; things like dessert, sweets, etc. are meant to be a one-off thing. But most of us fall for the leftovers trap and overeat high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar foods. Avoid this trap. Get rid of the leftovers. You’re probably thinking, "But I don’t want to waste food!" Well, that food could end up adding inches around your waist. Get rid of the leftovers by giving them to friends, neighbors, housekeepers, and so on. Whatever you do, do not consume leftovers that are fatty or sugary.

Taste usually wins over willpower.

Picture this scenario: You’re on vacation, and you’ve had a fabulous meal. You now know there’s another great lunch or dinner later in the day. Do you give in and indulge in an epic meal again? If you begin to feel bloated or if your instincts tell you that you should perhaps not indulge, then you should listen to your gut. You could call it common sense if you like.

This is more common than you'd believe. It even has a name now: "counter-regulatory eating." According to experts, the average person is more likely to overeat after a large meal than after eating nothing at all. Counter-regulatory eating tends to be strongest among "individuals who adhere to strict diets under normal circumstances." The stronger your will, the harder it comes crashing down. Becoming aware that you’re not a superhero with super-strong willpower is a great step towards ensuring that you do not gain extra weight during your holidays.

Watch your alcohol intake.

We tend to have more alcohol when we let go. We're attending larger social gatherings with larger groups of people who are all looking to relax and have a good time—people you haven't seen in a long time or new people who are cheerful and welcoming. The overall festive atmosphere can lead to a celebratory mood, more alcohol consumption, and lowered inhibitions. That can lead to not eating very well.

Intermittent fasting

One solution that keeps you fit and healthy through the holidays is ensuring you do not allow one or two indulgent meals to snowball into indulgences throughout the day. The second solution is to do some intermittent fasting during the vacations. Yes, fasting during the vacation allows the body to not pile on weight from all the good stuff you’ve been eating. It might seem drastic, but it does help get things back to normal quickly.

Bonus Tip: 

Do not stop exercising.

Exercise is your best mechanism for retaining discipline. Holidays and vacations are a time for relaxation, and you’ll be tempted to give it up for a little while. Maybe a family member or friend suggests "relaxing" for a few days. But you know yourself: regular exercise and watching what you eat are what keep you fit. Epic meal or not, if something makes you give up your exercise routine for more than a day, it’s damaging your holiday food game plan.