Holiday meals are often high calorie and heavy on the butter, carbs and sugar. Add in all the late nights and extra events and you might find yourself eating more than usual. If you’re practicing weight control you might feel overwhelmed and think that gaining weight during the holidays is inevitable. However you can prevent gaining weight during the holidays, even while still occasionally indulging. Practice these tips to stay on track with your healthy habits during the holiday season and you may even find yourself losing weight!
Gaining Weight During the Holidays
How much weight do people really gain over the holiday season? Studies show it could be anywhere between 1-7 lbs. But more than even just the weight gain, eating too much rich food can make you feel sluggish and bloated, making your clothing fit tighter and feel more uncomfortable. Christmas is my favorite holiday and all the delicious holiday food is a major part of that! When you’re gathering for a holiday party with friends and family, bringing a dish to share is often a part of the festivities.
So where can you start if you want to avoid gaining weight during the holidays? I have 9 very practical tips for weight maintenance during the Christmas season with a few you might not have thought of!
1. Start a Diet Plan
If you’re determined to avoid Christmas weight gain, I have some practical advice that helped me last year. I was on the Personal Trainer Food program during the holidays last year and was able to take off 13 lbs over 5 weeks. It really helped that the diet plan was convenient and I didn’t have to think about food prep, calorie-counting or meal planning for myself.
It was actually perfect during the holidays because I was already busy with everything else and with the diet I didn’t have to think about food. Being on an “official” diet also helped me to say NO when tempted. I could use my diet as an excuse not to cheat (“No, I can’t eat sweets on my diet, but thank you for offering!).
2. Stick to Healthy Habits
I know you’re busy but the holiday season can really take a lot out of you and it’s important to keep to your usual healthy habits. Drink plenty of water, take your vitamins and get to bed at a decent time. I like to use essential oils (like Simply Earth) in a roll-on to help curb my appetite. You’ll not only feel better day by day, you’ll also bounce back more quickly should you come down with a seasonal illness.
3. Etch Out Time for Exercise
Yes, the holidays are a busy time but 30 minutes of exercise is worth it. I’m sure there’s something you could eliminate in your day (mindless Facebook scrolling, one TV episode?) to fit in a workout! I’m crazy about Beachbody on Demand because I can mix up my workouts and do them anywhere and anytime. And one of the plus sides of exercise? You’ll be less likely to go wild at the buffet table during the holiday party because you won’t want to “undo” all your hard workouts!
4. Eat Clean
How many holiday parties will you be attending over the season? I’m going to guess that you don’t have an event every night. This means you have plenty of opportunity to stick to your goals and continue to eat well on non-party days. Every day is not a reason to celebrate with rich foods and desserts.
These heavy calorie dishes will abound at the holiday events and naturally you’ll want to partake. On non-event days, eat as cleanly as possible by forsaking sweets, choosing lots of lean proteins and vegetables and by monitoring portion sizes. You’ll appreciate the holiday food even more if you aren’t indulging in it every day!
5. Don’t Forget to Eat!
There’s temptation to skip meals in anticipation of eating at the holiday party. Better to eat lightly and cleanly during the day rather than fasting. This way you aren’t starving by the time you arrive and you’ll be less apt to binge and overindulge.
Consider this meal plan for party days: I like a breakfast shake (I make mine with soy milk, a frozen banana, ice and Chocolate Shakeology). For lunch, eat something light like a salad with lean protein. Just before the party eat a healthy and well-balanced snack (I like a half an apple, a cheese stick and a few almonds). You’ll be able to walk into the party with a satisfied belly that isn’t groaning in anticipation of the tempting food inside!
6. Pre-Party Pep Talk
My husband is a pretty healthy eater but in the past he’s overindulged at parties and regretted it later. Now, before we head out to holiday parties, we’ll have a chat about what we plan on eating. I’ll tell him to give me “the look” if I’m reaching for cookies too often. And I’ll pat his arm if he’s reaching for a third helping. We could all use someone who’s keeping an eye out for us when we get wrapped up in the festivities!
It can be helpful to have a party-buddy to keep you on track. If you have another friend who is similarly watching weight, chat before the party about how you both can help each other avoid the dessert table or to push away the snack tray.
7. Scope Out All Your Options
Imagine you’re facing the buffet table at the holiday party and start loading up your plate. Before you know it you have 3 different types of meats, 5 carbs and no room for veggies! This year before you start, peruse all the options first. How many times have we overloaded our plate at the buffet only to see something better down the line!
Take a look at all the offerings first before serving anything. From there, consider small single portions of each item, like one meat option, one side dish option and one dessert option. This way you won’t end up with all carbs in the form of stuffing, potatoes and rolls!
And if you don’t trust what others are going to have at the pot luck, bring a healthy dish that you know you’re comfortable eating. You can’t go wrong by sharing a platter of crudites, a green salad or a healthy protein like baked chicken.
8. Eliminate Mindless Nibbling
You’re having a conversation at the holiday party, drink in hand and you keep reaching into the snack bowl. Whatever it is (nuts, candies, chips), you are only slightly aware that they are going in your mouth because you’re more fixated on the chat than on the food.
Before you reach into the bowl, evaluate the need (“Am I really hungry?”). If you’re trying to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, mindless eating and indulging in extra snacks needs to end.
If you want a snack, place a few choice items onto a single plate for you to eat off of instead of reaching into the bowl to continually feed yourself. Then physically move yourself away from the serving table. You can monitor portion size this way and be more aware of what you’re eating. Having a big glass of water to fill up your stomach will help too.
9. Nix Late Night Snacks
Often times the holiday season mean late nights staying up long after you should. Whether you’re online shopping, catching up on work before vacation or wrapping gifts, you might be up past your usual bedtime. And of course your tummy will start to complain!
Plan ahead by having evening snacks ready to go when the late night urge strikes. Things like popcorn, carrots or a small amount of nuts can stave off hunger until bedtime. Bag them up into proper portion sizes so you aren’t overeating.
Follow all or a few of these helpful tips to avoid gaining weight during the holidays!