Looking to avoid holiday weight gain? You’re not alone. The average American gains five pounds during the holiday season. This may seem inevitable with all those family gatherings, workplace events and other food- and drink-laden social engagements. However, with a little planning, adding those extra pounds can be avoided
Set realistic Weight Loss goals
Come holiday season, it’s easy to set lofty goals about weight loss. Write down your goals—keep them specific and attainable—and post them somewhere highly visible. If your goal is “stick to two cookies at every holiday party” seeing it periodically may help you commit.
- Don’t starve yourself before a holiday meal or party.
- You’ll only show up hungry and eat too much. Keep your hunger in check with a few small meals throughout the day. Also, be sure to eat a small snack about 1 hr. before the holiday dinner.
- Take snacks wherever you go
Without snacks comes hunger that lead you right over to the hors d’oeuvre table, which is usually hunks of cheese and other high-fat, calorie-dense fare. Bring healthy snacks with you — in your glove compartment, purse, gym bag, and brief case. Whenever hunger hits, you’re ready. If you’re hungry at the party, reach for the vegetables, fruit or rye crackers.
- Select low calorie density foods first
A huge green salad, a plate of fresh fruit, and a side of roasted vegetables add up to a lot of food, but not a lot of calories.
- Don’t stand by the food at the party
You will be less likely to partake in unconscious snacking all night if you instead move, mingle and socialize with friends. The closer you are to the food, the more you will eat.
Face away from the dessert spread and listen to cues from your gut rather than your eyes.
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- Eat and chew slowly
It pays off to pace yourself. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to register a “full” sensation and signal the brain that it’s had enough. In addition, the quicker you eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. Thus, slow down and take a second to savor each bite of food.
It’s best to go for a walk or chat with friends before dishing up seconds.
- Stick to a regular routine with sleep and exercise.
Many times, feeling tired or stressed is mistaken for hunger.
The holiday season is full of cheer, but it can also be stressful keeping up with family get-togethers. Stress can trigger increased eating and cravings, especially for sugary carbohydrates. Thus, if the holidays have you feeling overwhelmed, try out one of these ways to reduce stress. Meditation—using techniques like muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and mindfulness may work wonders when attempting to avoid holiday weight gain.
- Stay consistent with exercise routine
Exercise is especially critical during this time of larger-than-usual meals. In addition to your regular exercise schedule, plan activities like walks, hikes, bicycle rides, and dances with family and friends. Seek out a professional to help you with your program if you need motivation.
- Watch alcohol intake
Alcoholic beverages contain empty calories, offering little to no nutritional value and contributing to excess weight gain. Try having a seltzer with a lime twist or a glass of water between alcoholic drinks to help cut calories and remain well hydrated. In addition, drinking too much alcohol can cause us to lose inhibitions around food and start eating irresponsibly.
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- Use tall, thin glasses for drinks
People pour less liquid into tall glasses than into shorter glasses. With a taller glass, you’re likely to down less in one sitting (which is especially helpful when drinking booze).
- Use smaller plates
Plate sizes have expanded significantly over the years. Whenever possible, choose the smaller salad plate instead of a large dinner one. Using smaller plates can make it seem like you are eating more than you are.
- Dealing with Cravings
It’s smart to acknowledge a few cravings instead of pushing them away completely. Forbidding a specific food or food group during the holiday season may only make it more attractive. Still want more of that apple pie after a couple of bites?
- Wait before grabbing seconds.
Try thinking of a favorite holiday activity, like opening presents, watching Christmas movies, or playing in the snow. Daydreaming about pleasant activities or distracting yourself with just about any activity can reduce the intensity of food cravings. Try small tastes of the desserts you’re truly craving.
- Drink water
Water helps people feel full, and therefore consume fewer calories. Rather than guzzling calorie- and sugar-laden sodas and juices (which are associated with increased body fat and blood pressure) treat yourself to a glass of wine with dinner and keep your allegiance to water for the rest of the day.