7 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Finding yourself avoiding the scale? Are you afraid of gaining weight from the upcoming holidays? Or have you already decided you’ll wear stretchy pants the rest of the year and get back “on track” in January?
The holiday season is a time to spend reflecting on everything you are grateful for and surround yourself with people who love and care about you. Yes, food will be involved. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat your way into a coma just to show someone you care.
The belief that people gain 5-10 pounds during the holidays is really just a myth anyway. The average amount of weight people gain between November and January is actually about 1 pound.
So why do you need these tips?
Because studies have shown that the weight people gain during the holidays stays with them the following year. If you're not practicing healthy habits throughout the year, then that extra pound is not doing you any favors. If you aren’t careful, those pounds can add up quickly.
Don’t worry though. It’s totally possible to enjoy the holiday foods and still keep your waistline.
Try practicing some of the tips below.
1. Drink More Water
Most people do not drink enough water - especially during the colder months. Your body needs water to stay hydrated. Sometimes, your body sends hunger signals when in reality you’re just thirsty. Be sure to drink water throughout the day before going out for holiday meals. Try drinking water before you make your plate to help keep you from overeating.
2. Eat Your Protein and Vegetables First
There are plenty of reasons why protein is good for you. One main reason is that protein keeps you feeling full with less food. Vegetables also help get you full because they’re high in fiber and water. They’re also great because you can pile on as much as you like without feeling guilty. Vegetables like broccoli, peas, and carrots have lots of fiber and can also be a great source of protein.
So before you reach for the mac ‘n’ cheese or desserts, try filling your plate with these foods first.
3. Don’t Starve Yourself
Detoxes, juice cleanses, or any other diet where you are not getting enough calories into your body will not help you lose weight. You might see a change in the scale, but it’s probably just water weight. If you cannot maintain those diets consistently, then it is very likely that you will gain back all the weight you lost.
This tip also applies to the day of your holiday meal. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or anything in between, starving yourself until dinner time is not beneficial and may lead to overeating. Eat breakfast and lunch just as you would on any other day.
4. Wait Before Getting Seconds
Are you sure you’re still hungry? If you were busy socializing, drinking, or enjoying the game, it’s possible you didn’t notice your body signalling that it was full. Wait 15 minutes to see if you're still hungry. If you are, then make another plate! If you aren’t sure, then try drinking some water and then seeing how you feel.
And if you’re afraid that there won’t be any cobbler left, make a to-go plate so you can eat it later.
5. Freeze the Leftovers
Speaking of to-go plates, don’t feel obligated to take everything home! If you really enjoyed a certain food, then just take some of that. You do not need to recreate the same meal you had the day before.
If you're the host, freeze the leftovers!
Just because you made a lot of food does not mean you have to continue to eat it. Again, there is no need to have Thanksgiving or Christmas meals for the next 4 days. I know you would rather reheat the food over and over again because that means you don't have to cook for a few days.
Have you ever considered how much you're eating?
It is estimated that the average American consumes about 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving.
It is estimated that the average American consumes about 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving. And that’s without going back for seconds! 3,000 calories is roughly the same as 6 Big Macs from McDonalds. You would never eat 6 Big Macs for 4 days straight.. right?
6. Stay Physically Active
I’m not saying you should sign up for the next Turkey Trot or Holiday 5K. Even though it would be a great tradition and perfect way to ensure you are being active during the holidays…
If you’ve been going to the gym or started running earlier this year, keep it going! There’s no need to stop just because of the holidays. Make time to go for a walk with your family or play tag with the kids. Have a dance battle or play touch football. There are plenty of ways to stay active.
7. Understand Bloating
Bloating is feeling full and having pressure around your stomach particularly after eating. It usually causes pain and makes your stomach appear to be bigger or swollen. Bloating is a popular problem around the holidays because of the large consumption of food.
Remember that this feeling is common, and it will pass over time. Just because you are feeling full does not mean you’ve just gained a ton of weight from eating. Your body is probably just taking longer to digest the meal or it is retaining water from the salty or high carb foods you ate.
However, if you are constantly feeling bloated even after the holidays have passed, then you may want to consult your doctor. You’ll want to make sure you don’t have a more serious health condition.
The Bottom Line
The holidays are a time to enjoy being with family and friends. However, that doesn’t mean that every social gathering should leave you in a food coma. These tips can help you stay on top of your goals while still enjoying time with your loved ones.
Understand that weight gain isn’t inevitable and challenge yourself to stay diligent this holiday season.