Between parties, candy, and the hectic schedule that prevents you from exercising, the holiday season is one that typically results in weight gain. Indeed, it’s easy to slip into unhealthy habits during this time of year, since there is so much going — and everywhere you look there seems to be something decadent to enjoy.
While gaining two or three pounds might be inevitable, there are some things you can do to prevent a weight gain of closer to eight to 10 pounds. Indeed, the fewer pounds you put on during the holidays, the better, since studies show that most people never lose the holiday weight gain, even if it is only a gain of a single pound.
As you prepare for the entertaining, and the parties, and the treats at work, here are six things to keep in mind:
1. Portion Control
Many of us don’t realize how much we are eating. Practice portion control whenever you eat. Studies show that you will eat less if you take a smaller plate. Instead of filling up a big plate, choose a smaller plate, and spread the food out. Don’t go for seconds. Limit yourself to one dessert, or pay attention to how many appetizers you have. Be conscious of portion size, whether it’s a drink, or food.
2. Don’t Arrive Hungry
You will likely eat more if you arrive hungry. Instead, eat a healthy snack before you head out. An apple, a handful of nuts, or some other healthy choice will help fill you up ahead of time, and it won’t be so tempting to eat the unhealthy food present at the party. At the very least, fill up some of your stomach space with water so that you won’t want to eat as much food.
3. Count Your Drink Calories
From wassail to cocktails to sparkling cider, it’s easy to drink thousands of calories during the holiday season. With so many festive drinks, you could probably gain a couple of pounds just from liquids. Watch your calories from drinks. Portion control is important. And, instead of getting seconds of a caloried drink, get water. Bring flavor packs for your water if you think it needs a little taste. Watch out for alcohol especially, since the calories can add up, and the inebriation can lead to less control when you eat more solid foods.
4. Focus on Simpler Foods
The more complex the food, the more calories it has. While you probably want some tastier desserts, don’t get too many such foods. Instead, get vegetables and fruits on your plate. Limit your sauces and dips, since those items can add the calories. Shrimp cocktail, and small pieces of chicken can make great choices for more solid food options.
5. Don’t Make it About the Food
Avoid making your holiday entertaining about the food. When you are someone else’s party, don’t make the food your primary concern. Consider holding games, participating in caroling and/or dancing and focus on your conversations with others. If you aren’t thinking about the food, you won’t be as likely to miss it. Instead, fill your thoughts with something other than food, and you won’t be as hungry.
6. Engage in Some Activity Each Day
I don’t have 40 to 60 minutes for exercise during the holiday season. However, just because you can’t do as much exercise doesn’t mean you should completely avoid it. Take a family walk after dinner. Make it a point to do 10 minutes of aerobics. Park the car farther from your work, or from the store. At the very least, take some time out during the day to do a little yoga. Do something active each day.
What are your best tips for avoiding holiday weight gain?