10 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain
Katie Carpenter | 11.26.13
'Tis the season for celebrations, and temptations! Holiday parties are packed with high-fat foods and surgery treats, and we're so busy this time of year, that exercise falls by the wayside. In fact, the National Institutes of Health indicate that the average person is likely to gain 1-2 pounds of fat weight during the holiday season.
Amy Watson a registered dietitian from WellSpan Health says that there's good news. She says, "There’s no reason you can’t stay on track during holiday season."
These 10 tips will help you make the most of the holiday festivities, without giving up on the healthy habits you've been building throughout the year!
1. Focus on maintenance
Watson recommends focusing on weight maintenance. “You don’t need to set yourself up for failure by trying to lose weight during this holiday season. The best way to do that is to keep food log, and track your exercise. Because, studies show that the more you record, the more successful and accountable you’ll be and you’ll be more likely to reach your health goals.”
Scan the party for healthy bites. Avoid high-fat, high-sugar options.
Click here for some tools to help you track your health goals.
2. Scan the party
“When you get to the party, scan the party for low-fat items. Things like fresh fruit, veggies, and hummus are great choices. Shrimp cocktail is a great option, too,” she says. (We personally like this festive veggie tray on Pinterest!
3. Bring a healthy dish to the party
Why not bring one of those healthy dishes yourself? Need some ideas? Check out some of Watson's great ideas for healthy dishes you can bring to a gathering:
4. Take a breather
Between bites, Watson says to put down the utensil and take a sip of water and enjoy calorie -free moments of talking.
“It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so eat slowly and savor the flavor. It's amazing how much better food tastes when you take the time to enjoy it.”
5. Keep your eyes on serving size
When it comes to the main meal, she emphasizes the importance of being mindful when it comes to the size of the serving spoons, plates and glasses.
Watch the video to see some examples of just how many calories you can add to your meal or drink by using a larger plate, spoon or glass:
6. Be the last to eat
Another great tip: If you’re the last one to eat, you’ll be the last one to finish, so you’re less likely to go back for second portions.
Make sure to think before you drink.
7. How to say "no thanks"
If you’re feeling pressured to try your aunt’s famous pie, simply tell her you’re so sorry, but you’re going to have to pass it up. Another option: ask for doggy bag. The next day you can enjoy it when you can afford the extra calories. Or, the other option is to give in to temptation, but just try a sliver. But, make sure to really savor the flavor.
8. Think before you drink
“My big recommendation is to ‘think before you drink’ and drink slowly because calories can add up quickly." Alcohol can disrupt sleep, is dehydrating, and it stimulates our appetite to eat fatty foods. The calories can also cause weight gain.
The general recommendation for women is 1 drink per day and for men 2 drinks per day. Again, pay attention to serving sizes.
9. Schedule in exercise
"Just as we save time for shopping, baking, and writing out our cards, try to make a conscious effort to set aside some time for exercise." Make exercise a priority this time of year because it is good for your body and your mind.
She says to make exercise a priority and to add it into your schedule like you would a meeting. Shopping online should save you some time that you can put towards exercise.
She highlights that the guidelines for exercise recommend getting 30 minutes of continuous exercise in one day. "Now, if you can’t manage a period of 30 minutes, try to break that up into 10 minute spans," she says. That can be very beneficial for your health as well, and you'll feel refreshed and energized.
Get some exercise on your schedule each day, and get the entire family out for a walk!
10. Remember to savor the season
“Remember, this is just a small time during the year so don’t sacrifice, but savor and enjoy those calorie-free moments, do lots of physical activity, get lots of sleep and stay hydrated and you’ll enjoy the holiday season,” she says.
“Enjoy every calorie-free moment because its not all about enjoying food,” she says, adding “It is about enjoying family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Go out for a long walk and engage in conversation. It will keep your mind off food and make you feel really good about yourself.
Tell us: How do you stay on track during the holidays? What are your secrets or healthy food ideas? Please share them in a comment below!