Cookies and candies and cocoa … oh my! Nothing says the holidays like the extra five pounds of eggnog and peppermint chocolates that we pack on from Thanksgiving through the New Year. Want to not have to ask Santa for the next size up in pants? Here are some tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain that won’t turn you into a Grinch this season.
What’s the harm?
Maybe you are thinking that a couple of extra pounds are a small price to pay for enjoying all the yumminess that comes with the holiday season. Unfortunately, not only will those treats add up this year, but also they add up year AFTER year. According to “10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain” by Susan G. Rabin, MA, for WebMD, “most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.”
So the way to stay healthy well into adulthood is to not succumb to all those sugary, fatty calories now. Rabin offers a few suggestions to help you avoid holiday weight gain at your next party or festive gathering:
- Never arrive hungry. Think you can’t resist a cupcake after a meal? Try when you haven’t eaten a thing. So before you get your party on, have a healthy and filling snack to keep you from going crazy.
- Think small. Trick your stomach by using the smallest possible plate for your holiday fare. Your mind will think you are chowing down (because you have a full plate!), but you will do less damage, because the plate is small.
- Drink less. Those alcoholic drinks can pack on the calories AND make you less able to control what you eat. One way to keep holiday weight gain at bay is to avoid drinking too much.
- Limit tastes while baking. If you are a holiday baker, you know how easy it is to have a nibble here, a bite there. Before you know it, you have sampled a whole lot of gingerbread. Limit yourself to a taste before and after seasoning ONLY.
- Take a walk. Remember there is always time for a walk. Simply hitting the bricks before a meal will not only burn a few calories, but also it may put you in a better mindset to control what you eat when you do sit down at the table.
Keep your routine
Not only is food everywhere you turn during the holidays, but also with all the activities, it can be hard to find the time to keep up with your normal workout. Add the two together and you have a recipe for holiday weight gain. In “10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain” for Active.com, Gary Bredehoft advises even though you may have to modify your routine somewhat to accommodate the busyness of the season, trying to fit in some activity is better than avoiding it altogether until after the New Year.
Exercise can help you de-stress, too. And let’s face it—the holidays can be stressful. All too often when we become stressed our better judgment and good eating habits go out the window. Bredehoft suggests, “Do what you can, but keep it up, trying new fitness activities and cross training to keep things fresh and fun.” It is also important to try and stick to your regular sleep routine. Bredehoft writes, “Many times feeling tired or stressed is mistaken for hunger.”
Finally, remember that even if you do overindulge at one gathering, tomorrow is another day for you to start fresh.
Five fast tips
If you remember nothing else about how to avoid holiday weight gain, take these five fast and easy tips from Emily Fonnesbeck, posted December 6, 2013, on HowDoesShe.com in “5 Ways to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain” to heart:
- Drink your water
- Eat veggies first
- Control your portions
- Stay active
- Indulge, then stop
It is the holidays, after all, so enjoy a nibble or two of something sweet, don’t forget to exercise, and you should start off the New Year without that extra couple of pounds or the need to have a lot of resolutions about weight loss come January 1.
Got some other surefire, healthy ways to avoid holiday weight gain and still party with Santa and the elves? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.