If you’re looking for tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain, this article has you covered.
The festive season is a fabulous time of year. It’s a time to spend with family and friends, some of whom we may not catch up with often enough.
One downside to this is that we tend to throw caution to the wind and eat and drink more than we should.
And with so many distractions and so much to do, even the most dedicated fitness fanatic can let their regular training regiment slide.
This being the case, it’s not uncommon for people to gain five or ten pounds over the Holiday period.
The weight can go on so quickly, then take several months of careful eating to lose. Some people relive this scenario every year, but it is possible to have your cake and eat it too, without paying the price for it later.
Following are thirteen tips that will help you to stick to your health and fitness goals and avoid Holiday weight gain.
Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Planning is one of the best things you can do to prevent Holiday weight gain.
If you know you find it hard to resist overeating during the Holidays, try to cut back a little on how much you eat in the weeks leading up to it.
Start a month or so before the party season begins. You will get used to eating less and not be as tempted by fattening fare. You may even drop a pound or two. Don’t starve yourself, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you weigh less, you can eat more.
Be sure to include plenty of healthy, low-calorie options on your Holiday menu. Fill most of your plate with these, along with a small serving of anything starchy or higher in calories.
Slowly eat the low-calorie food first, leaving the more fattening stuff until last. Eating this way will take the edge off your appetite, so you will be satisfied eating less.
By the time some of us sit down for our Holiday dinner, we may already have consumed 90-percent of our daily calorie needs. The reason for this is that we graze, snacking throughout the day while preparing dinner for friends and family.
Grabbing a handful of this and a slice of that because you don’t have time to stop for a proper meal can escalate your calorie count.
To avoid this situation, pick out one tasty appetizer, put it on a small plate, and take some time out.
Sit down, relax, chew each mouthful slowly, and savor every morsel. Don’t spoil your appetite, though. Eat just enough to tide you over until the main meal.
Control portion sizes
Another reliable way of preventing Holiday weight gain is to be mindful of what and how much you eat.
Focus your meals around vegetables, lean protein, and fiber. These are healthy, low in calories, and satisfying.
Sometimes, we feel hungry solely because it’s mealtime, and we are accustomed to eating at a particular time. Rather than skip meals, use a smaller plate.
Eating a full plate of food – albeit a smaller one – rather than half a plate will trick your brain into thinking that you’ve eaten your usual-sized portion. You will feel more satisfied and so be less inclined to reach for a second serving.
And it’s not just food that causes weight gain. Liquid calories go down easily and add up fast, so steer clear of sugary and creamy high-calorie drinks.
Limit alcoholic beverages to one or two per day. Along with containing empty calories, when drinking alcohol, willpower often goes out the window so we may drink and eat more than we’d intended. Alcohol also causes a drop in blood sugar, which can result in overeating.
Drink water before every meal
Often when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. The signals we get from our brain are similar, so stop, think, and listen to what your body is telling you.
Drinking water before eating can decrease how much you consume at each sitting.
To stay hydrated, most experts recommend drinking a minimum of eight x 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Others advocate drinking your weight in ounces daily to enable your body to function optimally. This higher water intake is also said to flush toxins from the system.
And, it will take the edge off your appetite. So the next time you are hungry, reach for a glass of water first, rather than that left-over pumpkin pie.
Maintain a regular exercise routine
The combination of shorter daylight hours, lower outdoor temperatures, and an overwhelming must-do list can leave us tired and frazzled. With little time to spare, exercise is probably the last thing you feel like doing.
However, maintaining or starting a regular exercise routine will help you to prevent Holiday weight gain. Additionally, it will help to ease stress, increase your energy, and enable you to better keep up with the increased demands of this time of year.
If the weather permits, get out into the fresh air for a brisk 20, or preferably 30-minute walk. Walking for 30 minutes a day has many benefits beyond weight loss, so it’s something you should try to do all year, not just during the Holidays.
If walking isn’t your thing, pop in a fitness DVD or put on some lively music and dance around your living room. Or, depending on where you live, get outside and shovel snow or do some gardening. Any of these activities done four to six times a week for at least twenty minutes at a time will help you to prevent Holiday weight gain, so keep moving!
Hit the mall
Providing crowds don’t stress you out, do your shopping in person rather than buy online, and soak up the good cheer.
There’s no doubting that buying online is efficient and convenient; however, there is nothing quite like seeing and touching prospective gifts for family and friends. It is also a safe bet, as you won’t end up buying something that looks good on your computer’s monitor, but not in real-life. And if you shop at a large mall, you will get a great workout going from store to store.
To burn even more calories, do a lap of each floor before going into another story. This will help you to avoid Holiday weight gain and check out the window displays at the same time.
You can also take things further by going to more than one shopping center. This will give you an even better workout, and you may find a lower price or an item you love that is perfect for that hard-to-buy-for person who has everything.
Wear leg shaping sports shoes during your shopping expedition, and you will not just burn extra calories but also tone your legs and buttocks with every step.
NB: If Covid-19 is still a problem where you live, shop from home, and save this tip for another year.
Take along some healthy snacks
Take your own snacks when shopping. When we’re hungry, it is tempting to grab the first thing we see from the store with the shortest line.
This is not exclusive to the festive season, but at this time of the year, there are even more tempting offerings than usual, many of which aren’t a good choice if you are watching your weight and trying to stay healthy.
A small bag of dried fruit and nuts, a boiled egg and crackers, or fruit and vegetables such as apple slices, celery, or carrot sticks are healthy, guilt-free choices, compact, and easy to transport. Taking your own snack will also save you time and money.
Modify your recipes
Making some minor modifications to your meals can make a big difference calorie-wise, without sacrificing flavor.
Examples include adding herbs and spices to savory dishes instead of butter. Rather than fry food, bake, steam, or grill it.
Replace cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.
When baking cakes and cookies and making desserts, substituting mashed banana, pumpkin puree, or applesauce for butter can greatly reduce the calorie-count. Rather than using sugar, use stevia or xylitol.
When it comes to beverages, replace sugary soda drinks with Club soda or sparkling water. When making dairy-based drinks, instead of heavy cream, use low fat or skim milk.
Make as many of these swaps as you can, and you should be able to enjoy a small portion of your favorite higher-calorie treats without experiencing weight gain.
Don’t go overboard when taste-testing
Taste-testing while cooking is another way of adding extra calories without realizing it. Of course, you want to make sure that the food you will be serving your guests is up to scratch.
However, you don’t need several tablespoons of a particular food to determine if it is good. One small mouthful is sufficient to tell you this.
Don’t cook when you are hungry. Always eat a healthy meal first. This is especially important when baking cakes, cookies, and pies or making desserts, creamy sauces, and anything else fattening.
And don’t eat what’s left in the bowl. Dump it into the sink and immediately turn on the tap.
Get sufficient sleep
The Holidays are a busy time for most of us. There’s shopping to do, preparing the house for visits from friends and family, cooking, kids projects, school activities, and the list goes on.
With so much to do, along with being exciting, this time of year can be stressful. This being so, it’s essential to get sufficient rest and sleep. Doing so will help to prevent weight gain and keep your immune system healthy.
Adults typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep nightly to be alert, reduce stress, prevent fatigue, and fend off sickness. These are all factors that often lead to overeating.
Limit your alcohol, caffeine, and sugar intake, as these can be stimulating and make sleeping difficult. This is especially important if a busy schedule is making it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep for the night.
Try to manage stress
If the party is at your place, don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by all you have to do. Not everything has to be perfect. If your iced reindeer cookies look more like puppy dogs, so what?
Do a light workout such as Pilates or yoga an hour or two before retiring for the night to reduce holiday anxiety and stress. A warm bath will also help you to relax, and it will promote sleep.
Prepare and shop for the festive season early. Shopping online will help you to avoid getting caught up in crowds. The time you save can be better spent preparing for the big day, resting, or going for a walk.
Treat treats as treats
You won’t have to starve or totally deprive yourself to prevent Holiday weight gain. However, you won’t be able to eat anything and everything.
Choose your favorite treat, be that something savory or sweet. Allow yourself a small portion, but don’t go back for seconds.
If you are satisfied with just a couple of mouthfuls, don’t eat all of it.
Whether you’re entertaining at home or attending a party or function, rather than sitting and eating, spend more time chatting and dancing.
The more time you spend interacting with others, the less likely you will be to eat and drink too much.
If your lifestyle is healthy, sticking to your diet and exercise plan is a sure-fire way to avoid Holiday weight gain, but this is not practical or feasible for most people.
It’s fine to let down your hair and kick back a little during the Holidays, but try not to let things get out of hand.
If you follow the tips above, it will be possible to avoid holiday weight gain and still indulge in your favorite treats over the festive season.
Focus on healthy eating, drink plenty of water, stay physically active, and get sufficient sleep. If you do this and try to minimize stress, you will be able to drink alcohol in moderation and enjoy some sweet treats without piling on the pounds.
None of these lifestyle changes are difficult to implement. And, they are a solution to not only preventing Holiday weight gain but to maintaining your weight all year long.
We’re all human, and sometimes we slip up. If temptation becomes too much and you gain a few pounds, check out my article on How to Lose Holiday Weight Gain.