Weight loss needs to be sustainable or all the deprivation of dieting is just a waste of time. As a Certified Nutritionist, I advise slow, steady weight loss using behavior change techniques, like those taught by Wellcoaches. Changing eating habits is the only way to keep the weight off in the long run. Once you are ready to be realistic, you can stop cycling and get to a healthier weight that you can maintain.
Weight Loss and the Holidays
Weight loss doesn’t usually happen during the holidays. One study showed that, on average, people gain about 5 lbs. over the holidays. The holidays are an especially challenging time of year to stay focused on our health. We’re stressed out, sleep deprived, and have no time to go to the gym. On top of that, there are all kinds of tempting seasonal treats everywhere we look. Many of my clients tell me that Halloween candy starts the indulgence slide and that it continues until January 1st.
Then, of course, it’s time to make that oft-repeated New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. The problem is that only about 8% are able to achieve their goals.
My advice is that trying to lose weight over the holidays is a non-starter. A more realistic weight goal for the holidays is not to gain any additional weight. Even that more modest goal requires extreme diligence.
Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance Tips
Weight loss and weight maintenance only happen if you learn the skills necessary to successfully navigate in our food-centric environment. Holiday season is a time of over-indulgence in special seasonal treats.
My advice is that you allow yourself to “be a little bad.” What is I mean by this is that you select a few treats that you truly love and you enjoy them to the hilt. Avoid so-so treats that you typically eat just because they are in the kitchen or office.
You will likely be invited to holiday parties and potlucks where you’re asked to bring a treat. Learn how to make some healthier desserts and you will succeed with your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
Here’s good recipe to try. I found this recipe online at one of my favorite websites, Chocolate Covered Katie. These bars get additional sweetness from fruit, in this case blueberries. But you can also use other berries and fruits, such as fresh raspberries, strawberries, or cherries. These soft chocolate chip blueberry bars are oil-free. You can also make them gluten-free and flourless if you use almond meal or oat flour (rolled oats pulsed in a food processor until they achieve a flour-like texture). If you have a peanut allergy, use almond butter or sunflower butter.
Healthy Chocolate Chip Blueberry Bars
Ingredients (makes 12-16 bars)
• 1/4 cup applesauce
• 1 cup peanut, almond, or sunflower butter
• 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon, optional
• 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour (you can use spelt, white, sorghum, oat, almond meal, or buckwheat)
• loosely packed 2/3 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
• loosely packed 2/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
• additional 2 tbsp. blueberries
• chocolate chips if desired in the batter, plus 1-3 tbsp. for the top
• up to 2 tbsp. milk of choice, if needed
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside.
2. In a bowl, gently heat your nut butter if it’s not already stir-able. Stir in the applesauce and vanilla, and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, salt, flour, sugar, and chocolate chips if desired.
4. Pour dry into wet and keep stirring—it will seem dry at first, so you’ll need to break up the nut butter and stop occasionally to scrape it off the spoon. Only if needed, slowly add up to 2 tbsp. milk of choice while stirring.
5. Add 2/3 cup blueberries and stir very gently so you don’t break the berries.
6. Transfer batter to the prepared pan, smooth down evenly with a spatula or spoon, and press the remaining 2 tbsp. blueberries + 1-3 tbsp. chocolate chips into the top for presentation.
7. Bake 15 minutes, then let sit at least 20 minutes, during which time they will firm up considerably. They also firm up even more if you let them sit overnight.
Storage Tip: Since berries are quite perishable, store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer after a day.
Nutrition (per bar)
Click here for the full recipe and for other healthy desserts to incorporate into you weight loss or weight maintenance plan.