With so much tempting seasonal food on offer over the holiday season, it might seem inevitable that you’ll put on a few pounds. Between November and January, lots of us put on at least one extra pound (and sometimes a lot more!). And most people don’t lose this either, which is definitely a big incentive to try to avoid putting on extra weight over the holidays. With a few savvy tips, you can enjoy the holidays AND keep your weight under control.
Balance protein and carbs
During the holiday season, a lot of meals and snacks will be carb heavy with not much protein. This can ramp up your appetite as protein helps to fill you up and is also useful for maintaining a healthy weight. Trying to balance carbs with some protein can be super important for avoiding overeating. Adding some meat, poultry and fish to your plate over the holiday season can help with this.
Don’t skimp on fiber
Another nutrient that holiday food can lack is fiber. This can also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Vegetables, legumes, whole grain, nuts and seeds all add some all important fiber to meals and snacks.
Bring your own dishes
If you’re invited to a holiday party and are worried that the dishes on offer will hinder your efforts to not gain weight, ask your host if they’re okay with you taking along your own healthy dish. This gives you a lot more control over what you’re served as you can make sure that it’s healthy and filling.
Work in extra activity
Look for ways to get a little more active while you’re running holiday related errands. Park the car further away from the store, for example. It’s super easy to get more steps in without doing anything special. And it’ll probably be easier to get a parking space too!
Get active with family and friends
If you usually sit around with friends and family during the holiday season, try getting a bit more active together. Even if it’s just a gentle walk, it’s a lot better than nothing. Plus, you won’t be focused on food!
Don’t skimp on sleep
Burning the midnight oil during the holiday season can make you more likely to put on weight. That’s because not getting enough sleep makes you snack more, according to studies. Lack of sleep can also throw your metabolism out and make it harder to keep your weight under control.
Keep stress under control
The holidays can be a super stressful time and this can be bad news for your weight. Chronic stress can mean a continuous production of cortisol, a stress hormone that is released during the stress response. High cortisol levels are linked to weight gain, especially belly fat, and you’re more likely to turn to unhealthy foods.
If you start to feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do during the holiday season, taking steps to manage your stress levels can help to control your appetite and weight. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga and journaling can all help with this.
Factor in liquid calories
It’s not just the contents of your plate that matters from a weight gain perspective … what you’re drinking can be super important too. Sugary and alcoholic drinks can be a huge culprit in consuming extra calories and they’re widely available throughout the holiday season. This can mean that you end up putting on weight, even if you’re really careful with eating. Drinking alcohol can also mean that you snack more, which is a double whammy for weight gain. Sticking to one or two drinks and alternating with water in between can help to manage both the calories in your drinks and on your plate.
Downsize your plate
The bigger your plate, the more likely you are to eat more so it makes sense to swap down to a smaller plate. This might seem obvious but making a simple change like this can make a big difference as to whether you gain weight over the holidays or not. Experts tend to agree that more white space encourages the need to cover it with food so the less white space you have, the better! Another trick is to cover the white space with salad to fool your brain into putting less food on the plate.
Rope in a like minded buddy
If you have a friend who is also committed to avoiding weight gain over the holidays, get them on board as an accountability buddy. Check in with each other regularly to talk about your goals and any temptation you encounter. It’s only human to feel tempted by delicious looking holiday food but a quick chat with a like minded buddy can get you back on track.