It’s that time of the year again where the holiday season is in full effect. From Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinners, and Holiday parties, the last few months of the year test your discipline.
During this time we’re faced with several opportunities to overindulge given the availability to so many of our favorite dishes in such a short amount of time. Of course, there’s no harm in enjoying your favorite foods during the holiday season, but what many people struggle with is the extra pounds that come with it.
It was a common belief that the weight gain during the holiday season ranged from 7 to 10 pounds but thankfully that is not true. Americans gain an average of a little over a pound during the holidays- which doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up year after year (Balfanz). About 70% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, to begin with. Once the weight is on it is extremely challenging to lose and only about 25% are successful at keeping the weight off long term (Oaklander).
The best way to avoid the frustration of trying to lose those extra pounds gained is to try to avoid gaining them at all. Thankfully, scientists and health professionals have found tips and tricks to keep you on track during the most giving time of the year.
With holiday activities taking up most of your free time, it’s easy for your usual exercise routine to slip. While you may not have time to follow your typical training routine, it is important to do what you can. This could mean an hour in the gym lifting weights, a 30-minute jog, or even a workout video in your living room. Try to refrain from the all-or-nothing mentality. The goal is not to burn every single calorie you eat but to keep your metabolic rate up when you may be taking in more calories than usual.
Don’t Save Your Calories
Naturally, we try to eat light throughout the day to save room for the holiday meal so we can indulge in all of our favorite dishes. This can easily backfire on you causing your hunger to be out of control when it’s time to eat. This makes it difficult to stay in control of our food choices because hunger takes over. Plan accordingly in regards to what you eat before and after your holiday meal. Satisfying your hunger throughout the day will allow you to make better choices at your holiday dinner.
Noticing your hunger/fullness cues is key when eating this holiday or any time of the year. Also, being aware of how you are feeling when eating and remembering to SLOW DOWN. It is easy to get distracted when eating given the hustle and bustle of the season. Try putting your utensils down in between bites, chewing food completely and watching your portion sizes when fixing your plate. If you are still hungry once you finish, you can always go back for more! Something else to consider when practicing mindful eating is how you create your plate. Opting for larger portions of fruits and vegetables will keep you fuller for longer. Doing this will still allow you to enjoy more calorie-dense dishes but smaller portions of them.
Leave Behind Leftovers and Treats
This may be harder to do in the sense of not wanting to waste food or just having to saying no to your favorite holiday dish a second time. A holiday meal is exactly that, one meal. This doesn’t mean you have to skip over the turkey and green beans, but passing on the mashed potatoes and stuffing would be helpful when trying to control what you eat later on in the week and into the New Year. Not having access to treats and leftovers in your own home will help you bounce back to your routine after the holiday meals instead of consistently splurging on past treats and goodies.
It is important to remember what the holiday season is all about. Enjoying time with your friends and family, creating memories, and getting everyone together for the year. Making food the center of your focus on the holiday could result in added stress, guilt, weight gain, and just missing out on special time with family. Allow yourself to enjoy holiday foods and treats but not to the point where you feel guilt and regret from overeating. Also, remember that the food will always be
there regardless if it’s on Christmas day or the middle of July.
The decisions you make this holiday season should be based on what best fits your goals. For some people that means gaining a few pounds and being okay with it, and for
others, it could mean making sure to stay on track with their diet to avoid weight gain.
There is no wrong or right way to approach eating during the holiday season. It all comes down to what you as a person feels is necessary to be happy and satisfied once January 1st rolls around. The most important tip to remember is to enjoy this time with your friends and family and to make decisions that best benefit you.
Belfanz, Deborah. “Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain.” Stanford BeWell, BeWell Sanford
Office, 1 Jan. 2018, https://bewell.stanford.edu/avoiding-holiday-weight-gain/.
Cassetty, Samantha, and Rd. “How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain, According to a
Nutritionist.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 23 Nov. 2018,
Oaklander, Mandy. “Holiday Weight Gain: The Annoying Truth About Gaining Weight.”
Time, Time, 1 Dec. 2016, https://time.com/4587800/holiday-weight-gain-diet-sugar/.
Reisdorf, Ana. “10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain.” TheList.com, The List, 18 Oct.