‘Tis the season when many accept gaining weight as a given, as inevitable as that certain neighbor’s house decked out with so many holiday lights that it rivals the Las Vegas strip in brightness.
But a holiday weight gain study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that that weight adults put on during the holidays stays on … and may be a big contributor to obesity later in life.
You can avoid the sneaky holiday weight gain by staying aware, forming a plan, and acting on it (versus the passive approach many have during the holidays; that may be fine for “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” but not for your health!)
Below are twelve top tips to help you avoid that holiday weight gain…
12. Drink lots of water before you head to a party, and when you’re there too. Drinking water helps you feel fuller. (This can also help you ease up on alcohol.)
11. Have a healthy snack before you head to holiday gatherings, such as your favorite fruit, vegetable, or protein. Berries are one good choice because they are low in sugar but high in fiber, which helps you feel full.
10. Sleep properly. Ideally at all times, but especially make sure you are well-rested before attending any holiday gatherings. People tend to make poorer decisions that are not in their own best interest when tired, including eating too much and eating foods that they shouldn’t. (If you sleep poorly, discover how to get a good great Zzzzzs without the dangers of addictive medications with this natural sleep aid.)
9. Don’t engage in conversations around the appetizers or buffet table. Half-consciously picking away at the foods while you’re gabbing can sneak a lot of calories into you!
8. Wear clothes that fit snuggly, or wear a belt. Some people head to holiday gatherings in their easiest-fitting clothes, which is just asking for trouble. If the snug starts to feel a little too snug, it’s a great reminder to stop eating.
7. Plan your indulgence in advance. If you absolutely KNOW you must have that piece of pumpkin pie with whipped topping on it because, hey, it’s the holidays and you’ve been doing it since you were born, have an advance plan. Allow yourself that favorite indulgence, but remind yourself you’re not going to fall into an indulgence-free-fall where you’re also consuming equal parts apple pie, sugar cookies, snowman cupcakes, and that weird fruitcake too.
6. Plan your alcohol intake in advance, too. If you plan on drinking wine, beer, or other alcohol, allow yourself one or two drinks and stick to your plan. When you passively enter a situation where, on the spot, you figure, “Oh, okay, I’ll have one glass of Merlot,” one can easily turn to three, four, or more. In addition to the obvious effects of the alcohol, that can add on some big calories quick.
5. Use smaller plates. Studies show that the larger the plate, the more food we put on it, and the more of it we tend to eat. Whether it is for appetizers or the main meal, switch to a smaller plate so you will take and eat less!
4. Keep exercising during the “lazy months”! In many parts of the world during these holidays it is cold outside, prompting people to stay inside much more. That’s a tempting invitation to reduce or even stop exercising, and all too many people accept that invitation. RESIST! Exercise has endless benefits, including of course burning those calories off and reducing your appetite. (Pssst, no excuses! Get your FREE Pilates Made Easy DVD now.)
3. Team up with a partner to keep one another committed to the plan. Share your intention to keep the holiday weight off with your buddy (spouse or other family member, friend, etc.), and the specific points of your plan. Even if you are not attending the gathering with them, you can ask them to call or text you as a reminder to stick to your goals.
2. Designate a bracelet, watch, or other piece of jewelry you will wear and see as your reminder to stick to the points of your plan to keep the holiday weight off. When you tell yourself in advance that every time you glance at your watch you will be reminded to stick to plan, it makes it even more likely that you will! A cell phone can even work.
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Holiday Weight Gain Study: National Institutes of Health