Sweet treats and savory dishes are part of the grand tradition of the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, our calendars and kitchens are filled with social gatherings, great food, and holiday drinks. It’s no fun to deprive ourselves of some wonderful holiday foods; however, overindulgence can set us back in ways that are often left unremedied.
The average American gains 1-2 pounds over the holidays, which in some way is to be expected, but often that weight isn’t lost, and over time those extra pounds creep up into a surprising weight gain. In order to avoid those sneaky extra pounds, put in place a few strategies to help you avoid the weight and still enjoy all of the wonderful holiday indulgences we all enjoy.
5 Ways To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1. Never go hungry to a party.
It’s like going to the grocery store hungry, where we find ourselves filling up the grocery cart with foods that we really don’t want, food that our eyes, made wide by a grumbly tummy, are suddenly drawn to. Trying to “save” calories for a bigger meal, later on, will cause your body to store and save those calories when you do finally (over)eat, meaning you’ve not saved yourself from calories at all. High fiber foods, proteins, and staying hydrated will help you to maintain a steady balance with holiday food choices.
2. Find other ways to cope with holiday stress.
With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many of us find ourselves filled with stress, not joy. And when we’re stressed, we tend to look for ways to mitigate those feelings, most often with food or drink. Our recommendation is to look for more sustainable, healthy choices; for example, get enough rest, keep your exercise routine, practice meditation, and say “no” to some of the obligations and expectations that come with the holiday season.
3. Stay away from the buffet.
‘Tis the season for celebrating with family, friends, and co-workers, which often means a smorgasbord of tasty foods for us to eat. This is a good opportunity to exercise some self-control when navigating holiday food and drink. At more formal, seated gatherings, choose a smaller plate and fill it first with a salad and vegetables; eaten first, these leafy greens and veggies can help us feel full before we have a chance to really dive into the other more indulgent foods. At more casual gatherings, where we drink, socialize, and eat, try to stay away from the buffet table and array of appetizers. For every cocktail, drink a glass of water. Eat one cookie, not three. Put in place a few logistical strategies to help you avoid overindulgence.
4. Don’t make plans to start your diet on January 1st.
Using the New Year as a finish line for overeating is more of a set back than a starting line. Instead, make healthy food and lifestyle choices throughout the year. When the holidays arrive, you can continue to rely on those healthy habits to help you navigate the tempting parade of holiday food without gaining weight. A great way to do this is to follow the 80/20 rule, where you eat well 80% of the time and designate 20% of your food choices for the fun-to-eat foods.
5. Stay mindful.
Say “yes” to eating the food or drinking the eggnog. No one wants to be the bah-humbug at a holiday party. It’s OK to enjoy yourself, as long as you are mindful. When good habits are already established, it’s easier to stay in control during these festive times. Enjoy the celebration and let yourself have a little fun, but keep that morning workout on your schedule, avoid going back for seconds, and make choices that make you feel good over the long term, rather than the fleeting short term of the holiday season.