Seven tips to Maintain- Don’t Gain, this holiday season!

1) Start each day with a good breakfast. Study after study confirms that we eat less over the course of the day if we start with a good breakfast. A balanced approach is generally best – meaning some lean protein (low or fat free dairy or eggs), with a reasonable portion of high fiber, complex carbohydrate (whole grain toast or cereal), and a serving of fruit or vegetable. And DRINK A GLASS of WATER with breakfast, even if you have coffee or tea. Your body is in a state of dehydration from the night of sleep.

2) Anticipate upcoming events. If you know about an event ahead of time, you have a much better chance of planning for making proper choices around the event. If it’s a meal out, try to look up the menu before you get to the restaurant. Avoid the dessert section of the buffet entirely – load up your plate with the least processed vegetables on the buffet. Look for simple proteins – the more plain, the less likely to be bathed in fat of some kind. Choose fish if available, and don’t go HUNGRY. If you fill your first plate with salad, skip the dressings if they’re creamy and opt for vinegar or lemon wedges instead.

3) Plan out your meals for the week (in general) – it’s the key to staying in control. We tend to make the poorest choices when we’re too hungry, too tired or too stressed out to think about what we’re eating. If you plan your week, allowing for some flexibility but having a written meal plan in hand, you’ll have a far better chance of eating healthfully.

4) Remember to incorporate plenty of vegetables and fruit daily. Aim for 3-5 servings of fruit, 5 servings of vegetables.

5) Our sense of thirst is pretty insensitive – most of us are in a state of dehydration & don’t realize it! Make sure that you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily, or 2 liters. One glass of water every 2 hours! Our sense of thirst is fairly dull, and easily mistaken for hunger. That’s why I recommend that you drink before, during and after meals. And if you think you’re starving, drink a glass of water before you eat. You’ll be more likely to eat less, and only what you need, if you’re not trying to get all of your moisture out of food.

6) Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Not only do you eat less if you’re well-rested, but you make better decisions overall. Your judgment can easily become impaired if you’re sleep deprived, so you may default to sugary foods to get an immediate rush of insulin. The problem is that you crash quickly from this kind of eating.

7) Be accountable to someone other than yourself. Involve a trusted friend in your Maintain – Don’t Gain plan. Daily check ins are usually very helpful for staying on track, whether it’s via phone, Facebook or email. Scheduling a face-to-face activity that’s not focused on eating is good – so hiking, walking, bowling, gardening or whatever active recreation is interesting is healthy. Making a game or challenge is helpful for some, discouraging for others. But tracking progress is good for everyone – helps you gain perspective on where you started and how far you’ve come.