The holidays are a time for family, joy, and thankfulness, but for many people, they can be a time for weight gain. It’s not surprising, considering the holiday season begins with buckets of Halloween candy and ends with a basket of Easter goodies.
Here are 5 foolproof ways to prevent holiday weight gain this year.
1) Plan ahead– One of the best ways to ensure surviving the holiday season without a weight gain is to be prepared and plan ahead. You know that most holiday parties and events will be filled with treats and sweets, so guarantee yourself at least one healthy dish by bringing a fruit platter with yogurt dip or a vegetable platter with hummus, olives, and some low-fat cheese.
If you want to, you can also have a small, healthy meal before the party. By eating a small meal with lean protein and vegetables, like 3 oz. of grilled chicken and ½ cup of green beans, you’ll keep your hunger at bay and will be less likely to fill up on the cookie platter at the party.
2) Don’t drink your calories– Drinking your calories is a quick and easy way to gain weight without realizing it. While the heavy carbs in beer may will you up, wine, cocktails, and soda can go down like water. A typical 5 oz. glass of wine has 120 calories- the same as 2.5 cups of vegetables. Allow yourself a couple of your favorite alcoholic drinks, then stick to water or seltzer with a lime wedge.
Tip: to determine calories from alcohol, multiply (0.8) x (proof) x (ounces). *proof = % alcohol x 2
3) Make time for exercise– The holidays can get pretty hectic, so make sure you make time for exercise. It’s almost impossible to prevent holiday weight gain without making exercise a regular event. Whether it’s 30 minutes at the gym after work, or three brisk 10 minute walks throughout the day, it’s important to make the time. You can also turn exercise into a family event by going for a hike or playing a light game of football on Thanksgiving.
4) Get enough sleep– Being sleep-deprived is a common event for many people year round, but particularly during the holiday season when there’s last minute gift shopping and getting up at the crack of dawn for Black Friday shopping. Getting enough sleep is important for brain function and overall health, and can also help prevent weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for high sugar, high caffeine foods that will keep you awake for present wrapping. Prevent yourself from eating unnecessary candy bars and sugary coffee shop drinks by going to bed just 30 minutes earlier, and aiming for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
5) Allow yourself your favorite treats, in moderation– For some people, the holiday season is the only time they eat certain foods or have certain drinks, such as gingerbread cookies or eggnog. Rather than depriving yourself of these once-a-year-treats just to prevent a few pounds of weight gain, practice moderation. If drinking eggnog while decorating the Christmas tree is a family tradition, enjoy a small glass that night, and skip the ‘nog in favor of water at the holiday party the next night. Aim for following the 80/20 rule whenever you can; make 80% of the foods you eat during the day healthy choices, and allow yourself to enjoy treats for the other 20%.
Despite the stress of the holidays and the pressure you may put on yourself to avoid gaining weight, it’s important to remember what the holidays are all about; family and friends. You may find it’s easier to prevent a holiday weight gain if you focus more on family and less on food. And if you find yourself “slipping up”, get right back on track. Find a friend or family member who shares your goals and offer each other support.
Have a fun, healthy, and safe holiday season!