Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Implementing Change

The holiday hoopla kicks off this week with Thanksgiving.  A time of tradition, celebration and creating cherished memories with loved ones.

The abundance of rich foods and atmosphere of indulgence during the holiday season can lead us down a path of overeating and weight gain. 

The key to mitigating this risk is to establish a game plan or strategy ahead of time.

Let’s unwrap some holiday hacks to ensure a season that is both merry AND light.

Strategies to Prevent Overeating

Eat a Healthy Snack Before Attending Events

To prevent arriving at an event famished, eat a healthy snack beforehand.  A combination of fiber, healthy fats and protein can curb hunger and help you avoid making a beeline to the buffet and revisiting it several times thereafter.  A few ideas include an apple with almond butter, Greek yogurt with berries and nuts, and cottage cheese with berries.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is not only essential for your health but also a fantastic tool for managing your appetite. Sometimes our bodies mistake thirst for hunger. Hydration can help prevent mindless snacking and overeating. In addition, drink a glass of water before you start eating and keep sipping throughout the event. 

Mindfully Navigate the Buffet

Scan the entire buffet before making your selections. Start by filling your plate with salads and vegetables.  Add a protein and then reserve a small place on your plate for holiday indulgences.  Prioritizing the order in which you fill your plate will minimize the calorie-rich items.  Allowing some holiday indulgences will help satisfy cravings and prevent feelings of deprivation.  This is not an all-or-nothing endeavor.  Balance is the name of the game.

Bring a Dish of Your Own

Create one of your favorite healthier recipes to the celebration.  Lean on this dish to fill your plate with something that has nutritional value.  Supplement it with indulgences that you enjoy and savor.

Select Holiday Treats Wisely

Just because it is there, does not mean you need to eat it.  Be selective.  Prioritize treats that are special to the season and ones you truly love.  Choose a smaller serving size than normal.  Eat slowly and savor the flavor.

Homemade Over Store-Bought

Choose homemade goodies when you can. Not only are they often more satisfying, but they are also usually made with more whole, real ingredients.  Store-bought versions are often loaded with sugar, highly processed ingredients, added preservatives and artificial flavors.

Other Strategies to Prevent Weight Gain

Physical Activity

Keeping yourself active will offset some of the indulgences and boost your mood and energy levels. 

Before heading to a holiday event, get in some movement. 

Create new traditions that involve activity.  Engage in a family football game or shoot some hoops.  Rather than spreading yourself out on the couch, take a short walk.  Invite someone along to enjoy some treasured 1:1 time together. 

Instead of traditional sit-down gatherings, consider events that involve some form of activity. Ice skating, walking through a holiday-lit park or volunteering to set up a community event can all be festive and active ways to celebrate the season. 

Manage Emotional Eating

The holiday season often brings stress, which can lead to emotional eating. See it.  Own it.  Engage in activities that ease your mind when stress appears.  Deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, hitting the gym or yoga. Being mindful of your stress level can help you recognize and curtail eating due to stress rather than hunger. 

Set Realistic Goals

Rather than aiming for weight loss, you might aim to maintain your weight. This can relieve some of the pressure and help you focus on moderation rather than restriction.

Embrace the Spirit of the Season

The holidays do not need to be a choice between savoring the moment and staying true to your wellness goals.  Use the strategies outlined above to navigate the season’s temptations while still engaging in the festive spirit.

May your holidays be filled with joy, cherished moments and the comforting knowledge that a few days of indulgence are part of living life. 

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and balanced holiday season!