8 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

December 3, 2018

Image via Shutterstock.

Cue the gift guides, festive parties, and sweet treats – the holiday season is officially here! And while this month is filled with holiday cheer, it can also lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Shift your mind-set and think about all the positive things the holidays stand for – some time off work; quality time with family, friends, and loved ones; and more time to do the things you want to do! It’s all about celebration, so try not to sweat the small stuff.

While the tastes of the season should be appreciated, we’re around more rich foods than usual with all the festivities. In fact, on average, people tend to gain more than a full pound during the holiday season.

Here are some simple tips you can follow that will help you enjoy yourself while still approaching the new year feeling like your best self.

1.     Don’t overcommit.
As holiday engagements roll in, remember that you don’t have to attend every party or cookie swap if it’s not going to feel good for you. If you feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin, take a step back to assess which events you’d like to prioritize and which are okay to decline.

Stress from busy schedules can lead to less desirable food choices and make it easier for the body to store fat. Rather than getting swept up in events you feel lukewarm about, try to be honest about the number and types of commitments that will work for you this season.

2.     Plan ahead.
Before you go to a holiday party, have a healthy snack. Snacks high in fiber, like hummus and veggies, or high in protein, like Greek yogurt, can help you feel satisfied walking into a party; this means you’ll be less ravenous and more likely to be intentional about your food choices. If you are on a special diet or have food allergies, consider bringing a dish that aligns with your dietary preferences.

3.     Be active.
Don’t worry if your favorite boot camp or yoga class is canceled – there are so many ways to move your body and still get your heart rate up! Go for a short run, take a walk, or do a quick at-home workout.

4.     Get more sleep.
Sleep is so important to overall health, and not getting enough of it is associated with weight gain. Start your holiday break off right by getting between seven and eight hours of sleep each night and letting your body get the rest it deserves.

5.     Watch portion size.
It’s simple – the larger your plate, the more food you’re prompted to fill it with and the more likely you are to overeat. Before you sit down for a meal, consider opting for a smaller plate. In addition, the more we’re served, the more we tend to eat. If possible, serve yourself the amount that works best for you.

6.     Start with the “good” stuff.
Make sure to add some color to your plate and fill the plate up with protein, whole grains, and vegetables. By getting the most nutritious foods on your plate first, you’re more likely to crowd out less nutritious options. The more treats you have, the less hungry you’ll be for nutritionally dense options.

7.     Slow down.
Consuming food too quickly often leads to overeating, so take your time and savor your meal. It’s okay to have seconds if you really enjoy something, but pause beforehand to allow your body to truly gauge its fullness level before diving back in.

8.     Be mindful of beverages.
Between all the festivities, you may end up having significantly more sugar and alcohol in your diet than usual. Extra sugar and alcohol can lead to extra calories, but it can also have a negative effect on immunity. To keep yourself in tip-top shape this holiday season, be mindful of your consumption of high-sugar and alcoholic beverages. If you do decide to enjoy a drink, remember to hydrate with water as well.

No matter what you have planned for the holidays this year, make them as enjoyable as possible by not overthinking it and allowing yourself to be in the moment. These tips may help you avoid the extra weight that tends to creep up during the holidays, but remember to keep the big picture in mind and allow yourself the space and flexibility to enjoy the festivities in ways that bring you the most joy.

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