Holiday weight gain is a common concern for many adults and holidays may be one of the biggest contributors to your total annual weight gain. That said, holiday weight gain is not inevitable.
Here are 16 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
1. Be active with family and friends
Sitting on the couch watching TV, are common holiday traditions for many families. Even something as simple as a family walk can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.
2. Snack wisely
During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be available. At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of sight.
Try to be mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself munching just because there’s food around, it’s best to avoid snacking altogether.
However, if you are hungry and need a snack, opt for real foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
3. Watch your portion sizes
When the holidays arrive, it can be easy to overload your plate.
Those who eat larger portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t.
The best way to overcome this is to control portion sizes or use smaller plates.
4. Practice mindful eating
People are often in a rush during the holiday season, which frequently leads to multitasking during meals and more likely to overeat. This is because they’re unable to pay attention to their body’s fullness signals.
To prevent this, eat mindfully and minimize distractions — including work and electronics.
Try to chew slowly and thoroughly, which will allow you to better recognize your body’s fullness signals and consume fewer calories.
It can also be helpful to take a few deep breaths before you start eating. This can induce relaxation and help you keep your full attention on your plate, rather than your to-do list.
Several studies show that those who engage in mindful eating practices are less likely to gain weight.
5. Get enough of sleep
Sleep deprivation, which is quite common during the holidays, may cause weight gain. This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories.
Sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake. Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism.
6. Control your stress levels
Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.
Stressed individuals commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake
Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.
Plenty of techniques can help you reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
7. Keep meals balanced with protein
Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs but low in protein.
However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.
8. Focus on fiber
Fiber is another important nutrient that induces fullness.
Some studies show that increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake. Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Try to prefer fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
9. Cut back on food taste -testing
Many people spend a lot of time cooking and baking during the holiday season.
Unsurprisingly, this can lead to weight gain because it’s easy to taste-test your dishes. Even small bites of holiday dishes can add up in calories.
Tasting your dishes is important, but keep it a tiny bite.
You should also make sure that you aren’t hungry while cooking, as it’s much easier to go overboard on taste-testing when your stomach is growling.
10. Limit your dessert intake
Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. This often leads to excessive sugar consumption. Try focus on your favorites and ditch the rest. Take the time to eat them slowly. It may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo it.
11. Limit liquid calories
During the holidays, alcohol and other calorie-rich beverages are prevalent.
These drinks contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories. Additionally, alcohol consumption increases appetite.
If you’re trying to control your weight, it’s best to limit your intake of high-calorie beverages.
12. Modify your recipes a little lighter
High-calorie homemade goods are a primary cause of weight gain during the holidays. You can lower the calorie content of recipes in many ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Replace the butter with applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin puree.
- Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie substitute such as stevia,erythritol, or xylitol.
- Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips.
- Flavor dishes with herbs and spices instead of butter.
- Substitute low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream.
- Replace cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo with Greek yogurt.
- Flavor your treats with extracts like vanilla, almond, and peppermint instead of butter and sugar.
- Flavor drinks with freshly squeezed lemon or lime rather than sugar.
- Cinnamon can also add flavor to holiday-themed beverages.
13. Weigh yourself regularly
Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays can remind you of your weight goals, allowing you to take action before significant weight gain sets in.
Studies suggest that people who weigh themselves regularly maintain or lose weight better than those who don’t weigh themselves
14. Avoid processed foods
While quick and easy, the processed holiday foods foods often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats.
Try to cook your meals yourself and you can monitor what you put in the meal.
15. Plan ahead
Planning ahead can go a long way towards preventing holiday weight gain.
If you have parties on the calendar, decide what and how much you’ll eat ahead of time. If Holiday meals are served buffet-style, limit yourself to just one plate.
16. Draw the line
During the holiday season, many people have an “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality, which can end up prolonging unhealthy habits.
If you’re serious about controlling your weight, it may be helpful to draw the line, set limits for yourself, and stick to your goals regarding food intake. It’s okay to say no to certain foods and habits that don’t align with your goals.
The bottom line
- While staying on top of your weight goals can feel daunting during the holiday season, multiple tips and tricks can help keep you healthy, happy, and weight-conscious during this time of year.
- Beyond general diet tips, it’s best to make sure you’re getting plenty of exercise and limiting your intake of holiday treats.
- If you’re diligent, you may find that you’ve not only prevented weight gain but even lost weight during this celebratory season.