The nights are drawing in, and there’s a winter chill in the air. The holiday season is right around the corner and for most, that means hearty, comforting meals and unfortunately for some, holiday weight gain.
Thankfully, there are a number of tips and tricks that can help you avoid piling on the pounds this holiday season.
1. Be Mindful
During the holiday season, there tend to be fattening free foods all around us. Your colleagues may bring delicious cupcakes, candy and chocolate to work. Your company, co-workers and friends may host holiday parties offering tons of alcoholic beverages and desserts (all free).
During the holiday season, many of us get in the bad habit of eating mindlessly, especially when all the food is free. The combination of the holidays and free food is exciting for everyone.
Before you reach for your second cupcake of the day, think to yourself, is that cupcake really necessary? Is it really going to give you the bang for the calories? Chances are you are reaching for the second cupcake just because it is there, and it’s free!
Be sure to be mindful during this holiday season, so that you are not being carried away by the holiday atmosphere and eating things mindlessly.
2. Use Calming Techniques
The holidays can be a lot of fun, but also can be stressful with all the planning, preparation and travel.
For many, stress is a common trigger for over-eating unhealthy foods. During this holiday season, make sure you get sufficient sleep, and try stress reduction techniques to avoid holiday weight gain.
Good methods are walking, meditation and yoga. Make sure to set aside time for yourself for some quality “my time,” perhaps reading a good book, watching a good movie, or enjoying a nice long bath.
Especially during the busy holiday season, it can be relaxing to get away from the crowd and have some personal time.
3. Balance Out Your Meals To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
If you know you will be consuming unhealthy and fattening foods/drinks at night, balance this out by eating healthy for breakfast and lunch. This may sound like common sense, but during the holidays, common sense tends to go out the window!
For example, meals centered around good-carb foods such as salads and vegetables are ideal, as they will not spike up your blood sugar. If you eat bad carbs for lunch (such as pizza or pasta), you may spike up your blood sugar, leaving you with a sugar crash and extreme hunger just about dinner time.
The worst thing you can do is have bad-carb meals all throughout the day (for example, waffles for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pasta for dinner).
You can enjoy holidays meals, but balance out your meals throughout the day, by consuming sufficient veggies, protein, good fats and of course water.
4. Maintain Your Exercise Routine
Maintaining your exercise routine will go a long way in avoiding weight gain.
Not only will you burn calories through exercising, you will maintain your muscle mass which is essential for maintaining your metabolism.
Exercise is also a great way to wipe out stress and improve your mood. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise helps increase the release of your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.
If you don’t have an exercise routine yet, start one today by even doing simple exercise routines. Once you experience the release of endorphins, you may even get hooked!
5. Portion Control
More of a general tip than a holiday one, but an important one nonetheless. Understanding the serving size of food and it’s calorie content is crucial. A good trick is dividing the plate in half, with one side being vegetables and fruit, with the other being equal parts protein-starch. There are also other smaller things you can do, like shrinking the size of your plates. It sounds silly but not only will you be able to fit less onto it, but it’ll also look like more.
For desserts, always choose the petite-size desserts. They usually contain less than half the calories of the full-size dessert, and you may be surprised to find that you are satisfied with that portion.
6. Avoid Sugary Beverages
Sugary beverages are another “party food” thing that soars when the holiday season comes around. Packed with sugar and empty calories, these can be pretty bad.
These are the various sodas, eggnog drinks, and the hot espresso-based drinks that smell alluring during the cold weather. Just to give you an idea, a Grande Soy Eggnog Latte from Starbucks has 460 calories.
Enjoy them once in a while, but if you catch yourself frequenting Starbucks for their various high-calorie lattes, it’s time to stop yourself and start ordering an Americano (15 calories) instead.
7. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Many holiday gatherings include festive alcoholic drinks, and it’s easy to over-consume alcoholic beverages during the holidays. If it’s all the same to you, avoid alcoholic beverages and stick with other zero calorie drinks.
Alcohol tends to stimulate your appetite, and with the buzz you get from alcohol, it’s easy to lose control over what and how much you are eating. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep, leading to increased stress during the holidays.
Keep in mind that you don’t need alcohol to enjoy yourself. Focus on having a good time by having good conversations and enjoying the company of your loved ones.
8. Don’t Forget to Weigh Yourself
With so many snacks and chocolate available, it’s all too easy to over-eat during the holiday season! Don’t forget to weigh yourself, at least every few days, so you can adjust your diet if you need to, to get back on track. The worst thing you can do is to put your scale in your closet, and never weigh yourself until the new year.
9. Don’t Avoid Dessert
I know, we’re supposed to be avoiding weight gain. And especially during the holidays, there are lots of desserts being offered.
However, feeling like you’re missing out could drain you of your willpower and send you right off track.
Instead, practice portion control. Always choose the petite-size, or only eat half the full size. Also, be every selective about which desserts you eat. Choose the one you want the most, and enjoy only that dessert.
10. Don’t Watch TV While Eating
Eating all that holiday food while watching TV is not a good idea. It is too easy to over-eat while watching TV, because you are not paying attention to your satiety but to the TV show! Sometimes you may not even remember what you just ate or the flavor/taste of the food.
Sit down in front of the delicious food, and do nothing else but enjoy the food in front of you. This is a good way to ensure that you savor your food and you don’t eat more than you really want or need.
So there we have it, 10 great tips to avoid holiday weight gain this holiday season. Happy Holidays!