Holiday hacks for your diet
Christmas is fast approaching. Whatever your beliefs, expect celebrations, work parties and family gatherings. But with that comes another holiday tradition: feasting.
Rich, sugary and sometimes boozy meals with the family over the holiday season can play havoc on your diet plans.
We at Particle want you to be happy with your body regardless of its shape or size—we like you just the way you are! But if you’ve made the decision to diet for health reasons or any other personal choice, we’ve got the tips you need over the next couple of months to help stick to your goals.
’Tis the season to be jolly
CSIRO nutrition scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie says an important part of maintaining a diet is psychology.
“It’s mentally draining to think about dieting every day.”
"You’ve got to get to a point where eating well becomes a habit. You don’t have to think about it any more, it’s just what you do.”
Unfortunately, during the holidays, our usual routines are disrupted, which can make it difficult to stick to what you’ve been doing and can even lead to weight gain. Gilly says the festive season eating trap isn’t always the type of food, but the quantity we eat. Bigger portions and less exercise means the energy we consume is much more than the energy we burn. This leads to gradual weight gain.
So what can we do to avoid the Santa physique during the holiday season? Well, sticking to regular portions is a good start, but CSIRO is already one step ahead.
Technology to the rescue
Gilly is part of the CSIRO team behind the Total Wellbeing Diet. It’s an online diet program that helps users with a monitoring app. The app tracks food intake, plans meals and sends you reminders to pick up groceries on the way home from work.
Gilly says it’s a way of fighting back against our obesogenic environment. Obesogenic environments are basically environments that encourage obesity. Like how in your office building, you can see the elevator, but the stairs are hidden away. Or the way your commute to and from work passes by multiple takeaway outlets.
Or, in the case of Christmas, how you always seem to be surrounded by a spread of festive food.
“Keeping healthy and sticking to a diet can be hard. A benefit of technology is it can help us to establish healthy habits."
“The prompts, the reminders and the tracking: they all help drive self-monitoring. And self-monitoring is one of the greatest motivators of weight loss.”
Losing weight is one thing, but keeping it off can be the real challenge.
Make a game of it
Weight loss studies find 80% of weight losers will gain it back within two years. It’s a staggering failure rate. But there are ways to beat the odds.
One helpful tool can be figuring out which kind of dieter you are. The CSIRO has developed different behaviour profiles that tackle dieting in different ways. For example, social dieters need outside motivation. In that case, making a game or a gamble out of your diet can help you stick to it. Game-ified diets have shown to be especially successful among men, who added almost an entire extra serve of veggies to their diet when using the VegEze app.
Too good to be true
Finally, Gilly says be cautious of diets promising fast weight loss—they’re probably a rip-off.
“The weight loss industry is a billion dollar market. Anything that promises huge, rapid weight loss is often unsustainable. Also, anything that cuts out lots of different food groups should raise alarm bells.”
The best way to weight loss is the slow and unexciting way, but there are ways to make it more fun. So if you’re making the personal choice to lose weight over the holidays, check out the CSIRO diet, get your friends and family involved and make it a game.
But most importantly, accept you might fail sometimes, but don’t let yourself give up. Happy holidays!