Holidays mean celebration and getting together with family and friends for most people and are filled with special or decadent food and drinks. The average American gains between 0.37-2.3 kilograms (about 1-5 pounds) over the holiday period according to a 2000 study.
Even though this may sound like an innocent amount, this weight gain is typically not lost the rest of the year. Therefore, avoiding this weight gain altogether can be advantageous in the long run.
Avoiding weight gain during the holidays can be hard, but there are some simple steps to help you avoid those tempting extra calories this time of year.
#1 – Fill up on fruits and vegetables first
You don’t want to feel like you’re starving while everyone else at holiday celebrations are enjoying themselves. The key is to fill up on foods high in fiber because they keep you satisfied, and you don’t feel like you can only eat a small volume of food.
Before you indulge in high calorie foods, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables. This will leave less room for other food and you won’t feel deprived of food. If you are going to a party, eat fruits and vegetables before you go. That way when you get to the party, you will not be so hungry you fill up with too much food.
#2 – Socialize away from the food table
If you are at a holiday party with a buffet food table, don’t catch up with family and friends around the food table. If you are near the food, the easier it is to mindlessly grab handfuls of snacks or extra servings of portions while you are talking. These mindless calories can add up quick and can promote easy weight gain. Instead, go into another room where to food table isn’t easy access.
If you are at a party where they are serving food family style, eat your food slowly and wait at least 15 minutes before taking seconds on anything. This can help from over eating too much. Giving your body adequate time for your stomach to send a signal to your brain when you’re full can lower excessive food intake.
Another tip to help with weight loss during the holidays is put the food away after everyone is done instead of leaving it left out. That way you won’t be tempted to eat food even though you’re not hungry because it’s out of sight.
#3 – Don’t waste calories on what you don’t like
Instead of feeling like you have to try everything, focus on eating what you know you really want. After you have filled up on fruits and vegetables, take small portions of holiday foods you are looking forward to eating. For example, if you really want cheesecake for dessert, don’t try the sugar cookies, pie or pudding just because it’s there.
Save your calories for what you are going to enjoy and take small portions that you can savor. After eating the first few bites of something, you feel the “reward” of that food; take time to enjoy it. Avoid the temptation to eat a large piece hurriedly, as you won’t enjoy it as much.
#4 – Plan active parties
Holiday plans can mean a lot of sitting and eating which means you are not burning a lot of energy during these events. Instead of sitting and eating, try something different with your loved ones.
If you live in a cold climate, go sledding, skiing or snow shoeing as part of your holiday tradition.
Go for a walk, play an annual game of football, soccer or participate in a local 5k or 10k race. Even playing games of musical chairs or Twister can be fun for all ages and is active.
Choosing to do activities with friends and family instead of only sitting and eating can help with weight loss during the holidays, and it can add in some variety and excitement!
#5 – Use small plates
This is a small change that can have a significant effect. We tend to gage how full we are based on how full our plate is. The same amount of food on a small plate will look larger than the same amount of food on a larger plate.
If you tend to gage fullness on if you ate everything off your plate, using small plates can help save you extra amounts of food.
Resisting tempting, delicious foods during the holidays can be hard. However, simple tips can help you actually lose weight instead of gain weight during this season.
Fill up with fruits and veggies first before eating higher calorie foods to keep you full on fewer calories.
While you’re at holiday parties, socialize away from the food table to avoid mindlessly grabbing food while you talk with friends and family.
If you want a treat or certain savory dish, have a small portion and savor the bites. Don’t fill up on food you really don’t enjoy or could go without.
Make activities part of your holiday traditions so you are not just sitting and eating.
Use small plates instead of large ones so you can easily and naturally help control calorie portions at holiday events.