It's January! Time to Get Back on Track

The holidays are often a nice time of year to get together with family, friends, or at least to enjoy time off from the usual grind, but let’s face it, the holiday season is also a time for numerous parties, stress, and endless baked goods. This makes it hard to stick to a healthy eating routine and often contributes to undesirable weight gain.  The subject of holiday weight gain is a hot topic in the media this time of year.


In Western societies weight gain is most common between November and January.  According to recent studies (, the amount of weight gain is variable but on average among healthy adults it’s usually less than 2 pounds.  This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s the main contributor to annual weight gain.  The good news is that holiday weight gain is not inevitable and fear not if you did gain a pound or two this season. You can make mindful choices about hidden calories and portion sizes that will have a beneficial impact on health.


Here are simple ways to cut calories and lose weight without really trying:


1.     Eat out less, cook more at home.  When you cook, you are in control of portion sizes and ingredients.  Eating out at any restaurant can lead to weight gain.  One recent study showed that the average entree at non-chain restaurants contain about 1,200 calories! Why? Restaurants tend to serve very large portions and enhance meals by using calorie dense ingredients like cream and butter.  Opting to cook at home and adopting healthier ways to prepare and cook meals at home can help manage calories. 


2.     Plan your meals. Start by making a game plan for the week.  Cook for the next few days on Sunday.  This includes planning home cooked meals and choosing smarter when you eat out.  At home, choose meals that you can quickly and easily prepare (and clean up). This will ensure you have a healthy meal or snack readily accessible especially on super busy days.


3.     Use smaller plates.  Plates have increased from 1980 to 2000 from 10 inches to 12 inches.  Evidence shows that people tend to eat less when eating from smaller plates. Remember…bigger isn’t always better!


4.     Track your intake.  This includes all food, beverages, condiments, dressings, extra cheese, and sauces. You’ll be surprised how much all the ‘extras’ add to your total daily calorie intake.  The best way to know what your consuming is to track it.


5.     Opt for dressings and sauces on the side.  Salads can be deceivingly high in calories due to a large amount of high calorie dressings poured over it and toppings like bacon and croutons. When eating out, order dressing on the side and consider a lighter option like olive oil and vinegar or a squeeze of lemon with a drizzle of olive oil. Creamy sauces usually contain more calories and fewer vegetables.  Choose a tomato-based sauce and you’ll get the double benefit of fewer calories and increasing your total daily vegetable intake.  Request sauce on the side, use less or avoid it completely. 


6.     Include protein at every meal.  Protein is considered a useful tool for weight loss and maintenance since it can fill you up more than other nutrients and feeling full can stop you from overeating.


7.     Bulk up meals with vegetables.  Most people don’t eat enough vegetables.  Filling half your plate with vegetables is an excellent way to increase your vegetable intake while cutting back on high calorie foods.  Additionally, veggies are loaded with fiber which can make you full which can help you consume less.  Request steamed vegetables when you’re out.  Be mindful of added butter and oil on any vegetable dish.  Ask the waiter how the vegetables are prepared and request it without the extra butter, oil or sauce. 


8.     Drink water before your meal.  Studies have suggested drinking water before meals could help you feel more satisfied causing you to eat less calories.  One randomized controlled study found that drinking 2 cups of water prior to meals resulted in 5 lbs. more weight loss versus those who didn’t drink water before meals over the course of 12 weeks.  Therefore, drinking water before each meal could help you feel satisfied with fewer calories and help with weight loss over time.


9.     Eat meals slowly and mindfully.  If you have a tendency to eat in a rush, try putting your fork down between bites or count the number of times you chew your food.  You could also try eating with your non-dominant hand to slow down.  Taking your time and slowing down can help you feel full more quickly and can help you eat less. Studies on distracted eating demonstrate that people eat 30% more snacks than those who were mindful at mealtime.  Try to avoid distractions like watching TV, reading a book, using your mobile phone or sitting at your computer.


10.  Don’t clean you plate.  If you eat mindfully and intentionally you are more aware of how you feel and what you’re doing.  You are more likely to notice when you’re full and satisfied and will less likely need to keep eating until your plate is clean.


Now that the holidays are over its time to get back on track and work towards a healthier eating routine.  Start with one small change that will work for you and build over time.  Before you know it, you will swap out a few unhealthy eating behaviors for healthier ones that will serve you well beyond 2018! Call Enhance Health today to book a nutrition appointment.