Many of us head into the holiday season fully expecting to gain weight. But the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the average adult only gains about one pound per year. That’s right: one measly pound. Other studies even suggest no significant change in weight over the six-week holiday season. That’s a whole lot different than the five-plus pounds that conventional wisdom says we gain each year.
The down side: Another study suggests that the average adult who does gain weight over the holiday season may not lose the weight afterward, adding up to quite a bit of weight throughout adulthood. So what can we do? Approach the holiday season as you do any other point in your life when you wanted to watch or lose weight. By staying aware, you can help to curb mindless eating this holiday season.
Here are additional tips!
- Go slow on alcohol: I consider alcohol one of the biggest culprits of holiday weight gain because it’s loaded with extra calories. At seven calories per gram, it can add up pretty quickly. A popular holiday martini can run you anywhere between 200 and 450 calories, depending on the mixers and toppings. Instead opt for a spritzer for a lower calorie option.
- Keep moving: Even if you have a minimal amount of extra time to spare, make sure you keep moving. If you need a fast and efficient workout, try interval training using both cardio and weights. If you need a moment to destress, consider yoga. If there isn’t time for a workout, build movement into your busy routine. Park farther away or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Don’t party on an empty stomach: One of the biggest mistakes I hear is that people save up their calories for the parties, and it’s a bad idea. Never put off eating throughout the day because you want to indulge later at a party. It’s just a recipe for disaster! Always make sure you are eating meals regularly and never arrive to the party hungry. You will likely eat even more and make worse choices.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout to help to fight dehydration and reduce fatigue levels. Drinking 48 to 64 ounces each day (or more if you exercise) can help keep you feeling refreshed, boost metabolism, and limit food cravings.
- Enjoy treats (in moderation): If you have a sweet tooth, that’s OK. In fact, I recommend having one small treat per day rather than restricting all holiday season. Enjoy everything about the treat you have chosen and then be done with it. This will help prevent overeating all of your holiday favorites at parties or special occasions. You can enjoy the season and all of your favorite treats without overdoing it.
- Slow down while eating: Have you ever heard that it takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to know you are full? It’s true! So slow down and enjoy every bit of your meal, allowing your body to signal when you are full rather than eating quickly and overindulging. This will also help prevent a belly ache later.
- Avoid bad habits: I think we all have been to a party or two where we go back to the appetizer table just because everyone else is there. This holiday season, aim to fill your plate just once and then get out of view of the food table to avoid repeat trips.
- Color your plate: Most parties have a fruit or veggie tray. That’s where you can really load up for lower-calorie options. Foods like fruits and vegetables not only have high amounts of water, but also high amounts of fiber, which can curb appetite and leave you feeling fuller longer.
- Keep a food log: My number-one recommendation for staying on track throughout the year is keeping a food log. Even if it’s a few days a week to start, tracking can be very beneficial to get a peek into how many calories you are taking in and expending with exercise. If you are logging everything that goes into your mouth, you may second-guess going back for seconds.
- Manage stress: Many of us cope with stress by eating comfort foods. And most comfort foods are high in salt, fat and sugar, which lead to more eating of unhealthy foods. When you start feeling stressed, try other coping techniques like deep breathing or visualization.
This holiday season, be sure to play it smart and always have a plan. By making small changes, you can beat holiday weight gain — and maybe even head into your New Year’s resolutions a pound or two ahead of schedule.
What are your tips? Share below!