10 Practical Tips to Manage Your Weight During the Holidays
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Yet, between the parties, cookies and copious amounts of eggnog, the pounds can quickly pack on.
It is a time during the year when people tend to consistently gain weight.
Additionally, most people don’t lose the weight they gain during the holidays. For this reason, weight that is gained during the holidays is one of the biggest factors in total yearly weight gain.
There are many ways to avoid unwanted weight gain during the year.
Below are the top 10 tips to prevent weight gain or manage weight during the holiday season.
- 1. Eat smaller portions
Simply limiting the amount of food on your plate (or eating smaller portions) can help to manage weight and prevent unwanted weight gain. Holidays are a classic time for overindulging with large portion sizes amidst gathering with family and friends. If you’re trying to watch your weight this season then you must watch your portion sizes. Use your best judgment to fill your plate with the right amount and the right types of foods to manage weight.
- 2. Become a mindful eater
Research has shown that those who engage in regular mindful eating behaviors gain less weight than their counterparts who don’t engage in mindful eating1. The study also found that mindful eating practices also have the ability to change obesity-related eating behaviors such as binge eating or emotional eating1. To be a mindful eater this season be sure to sit at the table, put your phone away and slow down. Don’t eat and watch television at the same time. Chose to savor your food and focus on the taste. Chew more. To really force yourself to slow down during mealtime try eating with your non-dominant hand.
- 3. Increase your activity this holiday season
Being more active and moving your body regularly is preventative against weight gain. Sedentary activities are a common holiday tradition with many families during the holidays. This holiday try creating new, more physically active traditions like a family football game, a walk to see festive lights or playing in the snow. Being more active, especially during the holidays, helps to prevent weight gain and take your mind off food. Plus, physical activity is a great way to actively bond with your family.
- 4. Manage stress
The holidays can be a busy, crazy and stressful time of the year. Stress is a common factor for weight gain during the holidays. People who are chronically stressed have higher circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Research has shown that high cortisol levels are linked to weight gain and to increased food intake2. Learn to manage your stress better during the holidays so you can manage your weight.
- 5. Get more sleep
Poor sleep quality and quantity can lead to increased appetite. Sleep has major impacts on the two main hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. Getting enough sleep can help you to lose weight or prevent weight gain. In fact, when you’re trying to lose weight, the amount and quality of sleep you get is just as important as diet and exercise. Research has shown that the duration of sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity3. This is due to its effects on hormones, appetite and activity level. If you’re trying to prevent weight gain, getting quality sleep is key. Check out our top tips for your best sleep yet to get more zzz’s this holiday season and keep the pounds off.
- 6. Snack smarter
The holiday season is filled with numerous options for unhealthy snacking such as sugary cookies, boozy beverages and gluten –laden appetizers. It’s easy at holiday parties or get-togethers to snack away and not think about all you’re consuming especially when you have the “it’s the holidays” excuse. This season try snacking smarter. Become more mindful about your snacking habits. By being mindful you can learn to better recognize your hunger cues and avoid snacking when you’re not actually hungry. Choose snacks that are healthy, gluten-free and filled with natural, organic ingredients. Instead of having an alcoholic cocktail, try sipping on some tea or kombucha instead. Make healthy substitutions. If you are hungry, choose to snack on real foods like fruits and vegetables that are free from added sugars or ingredients. This is one of the greatest ways you can manage your weight.
- 7. Substitute with more healthy dishes
Holiday dishes can be setbacks in the battle against weight gain. Often, they’re loaded with ingredients that can do a number on your waistline and health. This year, try making your dishes healthier with the right substitutions. Swap out conventionally grown food with organic food to decrease toxins. Choose grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed beef for an anti-inflammatory impact. Use heart-healthy cooking oils in your recipes in place of other oils. Choose gluten-free side dish recipes for your holiday feast. Even subtle, little changes can have a beneficial effect on your weight and health.
- 8. Bake healthier desserts
Desserts are a main staple of holiday diets. Cookies, cakes, muffins, and breads all lead to excessive sugar consumption during the holidays, which can result in weight gain. Contribute your own healthy desserts to holiday gatherings to ensure there’s something good for you to indulge in. Make simple swaps to your sweet treat recipes to ensure they’re healthier. Try using pumpkin puree or mashed banana in place of butter. Use half the amount of sugar and include more spices for flavor instead. If you’re using sugar, use healthier sweetener options like coconut sugar or raw, organic honey.
- 9. Limit alcohol
Alcohol is a source of empty calories and can impede your weight loss goals. Anyone wanting to prevent weight gain may want to skip that evening holiday cocktail. If you’re trying to manage your weight during the holidays try creating your own concoctions for flavored drinks instead. Try tasty combinations of rosemary and lemon or mint and cucumber. Cinnamon is also great for flavoring holiday-themed drinks. By adding in healthy spices and herbs, you are also helping your heart out. Spices are heart healthy and good for health.
- 10. Increase protein intake
Meals during the holidays are typically loaded with carbs and little to no protein. Try increasing the amount of protein on each plate. This will help to increase satiety, or that feeling of being fuller for longer. Additionally, it will help to limit carbohydrate intake, which benefits your blood sugar and your waistline.
- O’Reilly et al., 2014: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046117/
- Hewagalamulage et al., 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27345309
- Di Mila et al., 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23419528