How to avoid weight gain over the holidays

By Donna J Davis | Healthy Eating

The holiday season is here. Do you gain weight over the holidays year after year? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that 75% of a person’s annual weight gain happens between Thanksgiving and the end of the year — 75%!

Unfortunately, fattening and sugary foods go hand-in-hand with special occasions. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or a birthday, anniversary or a graduation, meals usually include family favorites. And those favorite foods many times are desserts or side dishes filled with fat and sugar.

Would you like this year to be different? You do not have to gain weight over the holidays. You can eat responsibly and still enjoy the holiday festivities.

 

Avoid gaining weight this holiday season:

One day is not going to ruin your health goals.  It’s the leftovers, the cookies, cupcakes, the fudge, the extra parties and get-togethers that all begin to add up — especially when we’re talking Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and then New Year’s! So here are some tips to avoid packing on those extra pounds.

  • Eat a healthy meal before going to the party or event where food is being served. Have some protein and healthy food before going. When your stomach is full of healthy food, you’ll be less tempted to overeat or eat a lot of junk food.
  • Volunteer to bring a side dish.  Many times you can bring a dish to share. Take advantage of that and bring a dish that you love that’s delicious and healthy. You can eat more of what you bring and less of the unhealthy options.
  • Focus on people rather than food.  Holidays can be a time when you get to see friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. So take advantage of that. Spend more time socializing, rather than eating.

 

Watch your beverage choices

  • Drink water instead of alcohol or soda. Grab a bottle of water (or bring a chilled case). Add some lemon or lime and sip on that during the party instead of adding the empty calories of alcohol or soda. When socializing, we can drink a lot more wine or alcohol than we know, so water is an easy option.
  • Don’t abandon your usual healthy eating and exercise routines. An occasional lapse won’t do any damage, but it’s surprisingly easy to gain 7-10 pounds or more within 6 weeks if you aren’t careful. Keep going to the gym and stick with clean, whole foods as much as possible. If your schedule gets extra busy this time of year and you aren’t able to get in all the usual exercise times, that’s ok…just don’t abandon them until New Years!And if you’ve been putting off starting an exercise program, why wait? Starting now will burn off some extra calories to help keep your weight from climbing. You don’t have to run a marathon but walking around the neighborhood or finding a Zumba class can also help reduce some of the stress this time of year.
  • Encourage another family member of friend to join in your commitment to be healthier this year. Get the entire family or a friend to go for a daily walk. You’ll burn a few calories, keep your blood sugar under control, and reduce your appetite. Keep the pace enjoyable and you’ll look forward to your daily walk.

    Slow down!

  • Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the less you will have eaten when your body finally signals that it is full. The easiest way to overeat is to eat quickly. A fun game is to see how many times you can chew your food before swallowing. Aim for 15-25 chews. This helps your digestion and also helps you from overeating.  Another trick is to put your fork down between bites and take a few deep breaths. Those are a few simple, easy tips that I give my clients to help them slow down while eating.  And slowing down doesn’t just apply to eating. This time of year can be crazy busy, so pace yourself and take some time to unwind and take care of yourself too.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before having seconds. Your first meal was enough to satisfy your hunger, but your brain just hasn’t registered the information yet. Our brains need at least 20- 30 minutes to signal that we’re full. Enjoy some more socializing or admire the decorations before heading back for seconds.
  • Start with salad. Whether you’re eating at home or attending a party, have a big salad before jumping into the main meal. And it’s always a good idea to have your salad dressing on the side, and use it sparingly. Salad dressings are loaded with fat, so enjoy the crispy veggies with a drizzle of dressing.
  • Plan ahead this year. It’s easier to avoid gaining weight than it is to lose weight. Enjoy your friends and family during the holiday season. Excessive eating isn’t a prerequisite to having a good time. Focus on making healthy choices and moderation. Have a healthy meal before indulging yourself. You can avoid holiday weight gain by making smart decisions.

Watch for recipes and more info on how to eat clean during this holiday season. It’s healthier and you’ll feel so much better when the New Year rolls around.