Are you concerned about holiday weight gain? The holiday season is wonderful, but often along with it comes high-calorie foods, temptations, and unwanted stress. All of these factors combined can easily lead to weight gain holiday worries. But don’t worry – holiday weight gain is not inevitable.
With a little planning and strategy, you can boost your nutrition, prevent holiday weight gain and maybe even avoid it altogether. If you’re wondering how to not gain weight around the holidays, read on for 13 tips.
How Common is Holiday Weight Gain?
Research shows the average amount of weight gain during the holidays is about one pound. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, most people don’t lose this weight afterward.
The bigger challenge, therefore, seems to be during the chunk of time after the holidays. It is at this time that many people continue to gradually gain weight, especially if they already put on a bit during the holidays.
So the problem seems to be that if you gain any weight around the holidays, even minimally, this increases your likelihood of putting more weight on in the future. The good news is that are things you can do to minimize this risk of weight gain.
What Causes Holiday Weight Gain?
Your weight may creep up around the holidays for several reasons, but these are the most common:
Overindulging in “forbidden” foods
Around the holidays, many people tend to overindulge in comfort foods. There are more temptations around, and it’s easy to overdo it even if you’re not hungry. And if you’re restricting yourself the rest of the year and telling yourself you can’t have a certain food, you’ll be more likely to lose control when you see that food.
Stress and overscheduling
The increased stress and pressure around the holidays are a trigger for weight gain. The holidays bring about increased demands for our time and the pressure to do all the things, leaving little room to relax.
A lack of sleep is more common during the holidays due to time constraints and longer to-do lists. Reduced sleep can wreak havoc on your hunger hormones, making it easier to overeat and zapping your willpower. It also drains your energy, which can make it harder to get motivated to exercise.
Increased alcohol use
Alcohol intake tends to increase around the holidays and is usually present at holiday parties and social gatherings. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and can deter your best attempt to prevent weight gain. It also lowers your inhibitions if you have too much, clouding your judgment to make good food choices.
Despite these risk factors for holiday weight gain, there are things you can do so you don’t succumb to them.
13 Ways to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain
These simple habits will reduce your chances of weight gain after the holidays, so you can bounce back quickly and continue feeling your best.
1. Stay active
Many holiday activities involve being sedentary, such as watching holiday movies or sitting around the table enjoying holiday meals. You may also find yourself skipping your workouts more often than usual as your holiday to-do list gets larger.
Remaining as active as possible throughout the holidays can prevent unwanted weight gain. Even if you have less time to exercise, adding shorter bouts of workouts throughout the day can be just as effective. It is best to modify your workout schedule instead of having an all-or-nothing mentality.
For example, you can exercise twice a day for 15 minutes instead of a 30-minute workout. Go for walks during your lunch break or after your holiday meals, or take a long walk around the mall with your family after your holiday shopping.
Staying active will also help motivate you to eat well and be more mindful of your food choices, so you choose more wisely.
2. Practice daily self-care
It’s easy to forget your own needs around the holidays. But neglecting your self-care can lead to rewarding yourself with food. Self-care does not have to be expensive or time-consuming – it can be as simple as a daily meditation, yoga practice for 10 minutes, or reading a book for a few minutes every night with some lavender tea.
These self-care practices allow you to reset and relieve holiday stress so you’re less likely to seek that stress relief from food.
3. Learn to say no
You’re probably feeling all the pressure around the holidays to do it all. But do you have to be doing so much? Make a list of all your usual holiday to-do’s, and ask yourself which ones are necessary. Just because you’ve been doing it for years doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it out of habit.
Don’t be afraid to say no to new obligations if you’re already stretched thin. You’ll have a much more enjoyable holiday and will be much happier to be around if you don’t overdo it!
4. Enjoy splurges wisely
How many times have you splurged on certain foods just because they’re around? Instead of simply grabbing food just because it’s there, ask yourself if that food is worth it to you.
Does it even taste that good, or do you just want it because you haven’t had it in a while? If it’s the latter, it’s probably not even worth the calories because you won’t enjoy it. Most of the time, the anticipation of eating a certain food is more enticing than the act of actually eating it.
The moral of the story – if you don’t care about that food, don’t bother. If you do, go ahead and fully savor it!
5. Prioritize sleep
Sleep often goes on the back burner during the holidays. As tempting as it may be to check off more on your to-do list and stay up later, this is not a good idea. A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your hunger hormones and lead to intense cravings.
Do your best to stick to a consistent bedtime routine. If you have a lot on your list to do, write down the 3 top priorities for the next day to get them off your mind. This will clear your head and make it easier to fall asleep.
Additionally, setting a wind-down time reminder, limiting screens before bed, and meditating can improve your sleep.
6. Use smaller plates
Especially if you’re a member of the “clean plate” club, using a larger plate encourages overeating. Whenever possible, use smaller plates for meals and desserts, which will automatically decrease your portion size without leaving you feeling deprived.
Using a smaller plate also forces you to be more selective in your food choices and only grab what you absolutely want.
7. Don’t save calories
It’s tempting to “save” your calories for the big holiday meals or outings, but this almost always backfires. This typically results in increased hunger at the next meal which is difficult to control. When you previously deprived yourself and you become ravenous, it will be much harder to make good food choices and control your portions.
Instead, eat as you normally would the rest of the day, making sure to have balanced meals containing lean protein and fiber. This will enable you to enjoy the big meal feeling more in control.
8. Limit desserts
Ask yourself which dessert is worth it to you. Do you love warm apple pie, but could care less about pumpkin? Don’t waste your energy or extra calories on something you don’t enjoy, and reserve your desserts for those you love.
Choose one or two of your favorites instead of a little bit of everything, and you’ll leave satisfied but not overstuffed.
9. Mind your alcohol intake
Alcohol often abounds during the holidays. But alcohol contributes a lot of empty calories and can lead to poor food choices.
Drinking can also lower your inhibitions, increasing the risk of overeating and impulsive eating. It’s best to limit alcohol as much as possible, but if you do drink, stick to the recommended dietary guidelines of 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
10. Build a balanced plate
Many holiday meals are high in carbs but fall short on protein. These types of foods provide quick energy but often leave you feeling sluggish and hungry shortly after. Aim to create balanced meals throughout the holiday season as much as possible to curb cravings and limit overeating.
A balanced meal includes lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds; plenty of veggies/fruit, and complex carbs like whole wheat bread, quinoa, or oats. These balanced meals are especially important to have the day before a big party/holiday event.
11. Practice mindful eating
With all the hustle and bustle associated with the holidays, many of us tend to eat not only mindlessly, but also way too fast. To become more aware of your own hunger and fullness signals, try to take your time with eating.
Put your fork down between bites and enjoy the moment and social atmosphere. This will help take over, instead of putting the emphasis on the food. When you are more in the moment, you will begin to notice how the food is making you feel and when you are getting full.
It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to recognize it’s full, so do your best to get as close to this time as possible during meals.
12. Get in your vitamins
During the holidays your diet can vary, and may not be as nutritionally balanced as usual. It is therefore even more important to continue your regular vitamin and supplement routine throughout the holiday season.
Plus, a vitamin deficiency can lead to more cravings and overeating as your body cries out for food containing that nutrient. Powher’s Complete Multivitamin is designed specifically for women’s nutritional requirements and provides added assurance you’re giving your body what it needs.
13. Eat whole foods
Eating more real food as opposed to snacks and processed foods can also help prevent holiday weight gain. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and prioritize whole foods like lean proteins, produce, and low-fat dairy products. These whole foods are more natural, are lower in salt, and are more filling to kick help cravings to the curb.
Takeaway – Preventing Holiday Weight Gain Is Possible
It is entirely possible to enjoy your holiday, splurge a bit, and still come out without weight gain. Taking the steps now to prevent holiday weight gain will make it easier to bounce back into your routine post-holiday. Plus, you’ll start the new year feeling your absolute best instead of feeling the need to “reset.”
Learn more about the Powher multivitamins for women and how they can complement a healthy diet and lifestyle during the holiday season and beyond.
Disclaimer: The information on the Powher blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be used as such. If you would like to learn more about your dietary requirements and related aspects of your health, speak with a registered medical professional.