12 Tips For Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Weight gain and the holiday season seem to go hand-in-hand. Most people associate the holidays with food, fun, and gaining weight. Halloween and it’s endless flow of chocolate and candy. Followed by Thanksgiving and the curse of the leftovers ( that can last more than a week.) Then on to Christmas, with the parties and get togethers with family and friends. And New Year’s Eve being the final celebratory event before we all settle in to our food-induced comas (aka Winter hibernation) is the following week.
Research has shown that 75% of a person’s annual weight gain happens between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now is the time to start planning to avoid emotional eating traps and holiday weight gain. You can choose to enjoy the holidays and still eat responsibly.
Top Tips to Avoid Emotional Eating Weight Gain During the Holidays:
- Have a healthy meal before arriving at a party or other event that includes food. Feel free to go crazy on Thanksgiving. A single meal or day won’t undo all your efforts, but be mindful. Plan it. Spontaneity is not your friend. For other holiday events and gatherings, fill up with on healthy food before going. With your tummy full of your normal eating fare, you’ll be less likely to eat junk food and you’ll avoid the indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and gas that comes with eating items not normally on your menu.
- Set a time frame. One item, one meal, one day, one weekend. But when time is up, time is up. No extensions. No exceptions. Get right back on track.
- Make it worth it. Don’t cheat with a bag of potato chips or a sandwich. Taste your chosen foods. Really taste them. Decide if it’s worth it. If you have holiday food favorites, have them. But pass on the items you can easily live without. If you’re wanting a glass of eggnog, have it during a toast at a family gathering, not every night standing at the fridge.
- Bring a side dish or dessert that you love and works for your way of eating. Many gatherings encourage guests to bring of a dish to share. This way you can limit your consumption of foods with unknown ingredients and enjoy the gathering at the same time.
- Focus everything but the food. When attending a party, spend your time and attention on the other friends and guests. Mingle and socialize, this is an opportunity to make new friends, catch up with old ones, and building your support network. You might be surprised to find out who’s in the same dietary boat you are. Snack mindfully and keep a bottle of water in hand to keep your hands occupied.
- Maintain your normal way of eating, exercise, and self-care routines. An occasional lapse won’t do any damage, but than a day or two “off” and you may find it hard to start your practices up again. It’s surprisingly easy to gain weight if you aren’t careful. Consider keeping a food diary to help keep you mindful. Continue going to the gym and stick with your regular eating plans as much as possible. Avoid deviating from your routine if you can help it. If you’re considering the possibility of beginning an exercise program for the New Year, why wait? There’s no time like the present to make your health a priority.
- Add a daily walk to your routine. Get the entire family together or even your girlfriends for a daily walk. You’ll burn a few calories, boost your mood, keep your blood sugar under control, and reduce your appetite. Keep the pace enjoyable and you’ll look forward to your daily walk.
- Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the less you will have eaten when your body finally decides it’s full. The easiest way to overeat is to eat quickly. This becomes easier when you are nervous or anxious about the gathering. So take time to chew your food slowly and completely. Have a bit of conversation between bites. Drink plenty of water with your meals. This will also fill your stomach.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before going back for more. Your first meal was likely enough to sate you, but your brain may not have registered the information yet. Thirty minutes is plenty of time for your brain to let you know whether you’re full or not. Have a nice chat with your friends or family before re-filling your plate.
- Take part in a fitness or weight-loss competition. While these are usually tremendously focused on weight-loss, being in it with a group may help you stay focused and mindful when it might be easier to say “the heck with it” and just stuff your face. There are plenty of opportunities during the holiday season to increase your fitness. Like parking at the back of the lot when you go shopping. But even if you don’t win, you’re bound to be in a better place than if you’d never competed.
- Start with salad. Whether you’re eating at home or attending a party, have a big salad before commencing with the rest of the meal. The volume of food will make you feel fuller, but remember to take it easy on the salad dressing.
- Accept the consequences. Accept that if you deviate from your regular way of eating you may pick up a pound or two (or seven.) Much of this may be water, and it may take days to process it all. Accept that your food choices may make you feel groggy, or lethargic.
Always remember that you are in control. When you choose what to put in your mouth, you choose the outcome too. If you plan, limit, and control your eating, you can plan, limit, and control the outcome.
Plan ahead this year. It’s easier to avoid gaining weight than it might seem. Enjoy your friends and family during the holiday season. Excessive eating isn’t a prerequisite to having a good time. Focus on making healthy choices and moderation. Have a healthy meal before indulging yourself. You can avoid holiday weight gain by making smart decisions.
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