A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine found that holiday weight-gain for the average American amounts to approximately 1 pound per year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but most of the subjects didn’t lose that weight in the following spring and summer months, and the gains compound over the years. Avoiding holiday weight gain is possible, by making time for healthy habits and limiting your indulgences.
Here are 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain:
1. Don’t wait to eat on the day of a big holiday feast
Skipping breakfast and lunch because you know you’ll be bringing in the evening is never a good idea. You’ll end up ravenous right when you’re surrounded with food. New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, suggests a better solution would be to have a protein-rich light lunch, and a 100-150 calorie snack before dinner. That way you’ll have some energy to fight those “hangry” urges!
2. Build in splurges to your plan
Staying healthy doesn’t mean being hard on yourself. It’s really easy to get discouraged when you feel like you’re not cutting yourself any slack. It’s like being overworked – you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t give yourself some breathing room. Make sure you’re letting yourself indulge for a couple of meals a week; and hammer it home that you’re still on track to reach your goals!
3. Share the love
If you’re hosting, grab some inexpensive plastic or foil containers before a big holiday dinner. That way you can encourage your guests to take leftover food home, so you’re not tempted by a fridge full of deliciousness after your event is over.
4. Practice self-care
Gifting, hosting, and extended family can take its toll, and sometimes, the holiday season can leave us more exhausted than relaxed. This year, don’t forget to take a couple of breaks for yourself! Stress increases your appetite, and also causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. (It combines with insulin to optimize your body to store fat.) So, just breathe and stay calm. You’ve got this!
5. Enjoy the people you're with
Parties aren’t just about the food – they’re also about the company. You can kill two birds with one stone by finding an engaging conversation at your next get-together. It’ll distract you from mindless munching, and let out the social butterfly that you’ve always had in you.
6. BYOV (Bring Your Own Veggies!)
Take it upon yourself to bring a dish to share when you attend a party that you’re not hosting. This will give you a little control over your party food options. You’ll know that there’s at least one healthy option available at the party buffet when for you start to get hungry.
7. Stay hydrated
Make sure you drink plenty of water. It’ll help curb your appetite so you don't confuse hunger for thirst. If you're drinking alcohol at your holiday celebrations, wine is a great choice. Wine is usually gluten-free and contains fewer calories per serving than eggnog, mudslides, or even hard liquor.
8. Find creative ways to stay active
If you’re running errands, or moving between parties, opt to walk when you can. Short walks down the street, up the stairs, or just around the corner add up and really make a difference. This way, you'll get in a little exercise as you check items off your to-do list. You can even put an extra 15 minutes to good use. Quick body weight exercises are a great way to condense a workout (with no equipment required) into a short amount of time. You might not be making huge gains, but you'll be maintaining your fitness level, working multiple muscle groups and increasing your metabolism.
9. Make appointments
Literally schedule time to stay healthy, whether through meditation or exercise. By putting this on your calendar, you’ll have something to hold you accountable. Try making it a date with a friend to improve your chances for success and to keep your workouts fun. Going to the gym isn't the the only form of exercise that counts! There’s something for everyone – whether it’s yoga, a walk around the neighborhood, or strength training – you should look for something that you’ll enjoy.
10. Get more ZZZ's
Sleep deprivation is strongly tied to increases in appetite because your body is craving more energy. Make sure you’re not skimping on the sleep – get a full 7-8 hours or quality snooze-time.
When you’re short on time, even a 10-15 minute workout makes a difference. Try BurnAlong's quick online workouts or healthy meal delivery from Terra's Kitchen to save time when you're at your busiest.