On average, Americans add 1 to 2 pounds from around mid-November to mid-January, studies show (though people who are overweight or obese tend to gain more). It may not sound like much, but that weight gain could last. Holiday weight gain is a major source of the weight creep that happens during adulthood. In fact, small decisions can keep the scale steady. On Thursday, many Americans will sit down to a meal that could be a whopping 3,000 calories. While just one bad day of eating might not lead to weight gain, Thanksgiving marks the start of an often overindulgent holiday season. But avoiding holiday weight gain doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how you can enjoy beloved holiday foods without gaining weight or creating bad habits.
- It’s a holiDAY! It’s a holiDAY not a holaweek or a holamonth. You can enjoy yourself for one day and not go crazy. Too often, people give themselves permission to overeat starting at Thanksgiving and continuing at every office potluck, lunch out, Friendsgiving, gift exchange and family gatherings. It’s often not just ‘one day’ for many of us. Before you know it, you’re eating unhealthy foods three to four times per week and you’re back into your fat jeans by the New Year.
2. Eat before the party
Often people skip eating on holidays rationalizing that they’ll save their calories for the big meal. But that often causes hungry people to consume loads of. People think ‘OK I am going to save all my calories for one meal’ and what happens is that just triggers a binge. You just have this mentally where it is ‘All right, game on. Eat a healthy snack, such as nuts, prior to leaving the house so you aren’t ravenous. Snack on a handful of almonds, an apple, scrambled eggs, a cup of carrots, snap peas and hummus or green tea — and don’t forget a big glass of water. Fill up on something healthy so there’s less room for the garbage.
3. Be mindful
Savor every bite. It will help you thoroughly enjoy the holiday meal and has the added benefit of forcing you to eat more slowly, which can help you better recognize when you’re full. You don’t have to get overstuffed—remember, there are always leftovers!
Be intentional with your eating. Don’t use the holidays as a cheat time. You can’t skip a meal. Slow, mindful eating is key.
4. Weigh yourself once a week.
This will give you a benchmark at the start of the holiday season. And continue stepping on the scale at least weekly. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who weighed themselves frequently, consistently lost more weight over the year-long study period than those who stepped on the scale less often.
5. Keep moving
I often participate in a turkey trot or other holiday exercise activity prior to Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t make any changes to her exercise routine, but keep up my good habits. I just try to stay consistent. I don’t want to slack off during the holiday season. Stick with high-intensity interval training throughout the holiday season. Also try to include family exercise, such as walks, dodge ball or flag football, after dinner. Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean you have to stop all activities. Push yourself. Work out a little harder and/or longer today than you usually do to try to compensate for extra calories you may be eating. If you don’t want to tack on extra time to your regular exercise session, sneak in 5- to 10-minute activity breaks during the day. These little things really do add up.
6. Prioritize sleep
Compared with those who sleep better, people who are sleep deprived tend to overeat more and gain more weight, possibly due to dysregulated appetite hormones.
7. Manage your stress
The relatives are arriving and that often raises anxiety levels. Stress can be a trigger for overeating and drinking. Try exercise, meditation, or time away so that stress doesn’t torpedo your diet. When you’re stressed or overly tired, your willpower isn’t as strong. You’re more likely to snack or overeat. Control your stress levels. The higher your stress, the more that your body signals your brain to want to eat. Go for a walk or do yoga. Breathe a couple of times.
8. Don’t deny yourself
It’s all about portion control. Instead of three cookies, just eat one. I love sweets and so I enjoy a small piece of pie and a cookie. Small portions help you maintain your weight. Too much of anything isn’t good, so have the foods you love in moderation
9. Use a smaller plate
On holidays, it’s easy to heap food onto a huge plate and eat all of it. When you pick a smaller plate your portions tend to be way smaller. Never ever eat anything without portioning it out first. Put everything in a small plate, never eat straight out of a package. When the plate is empty I stop. Be picky at parties. Prioritize vegetables and fruit, shrimp cocktail, and nuts. They tend to be lower in calories and sodium than other party fare, and more filling. It’s really about the amount you eat than anything else, though, so exercise portion control.
Source: The Jumpsuit Way