There is good news and bad news for you when it comes to holiday weight gain. First, the good news. While most people think the “average American” gains five pounds during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, this figure is actually closer to one pound, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The bad news? This weight gain “is not reversed” in the subsequent days, weeks and months. In other words, with each new year that passes, weight gain continues to accumulate. Unlike the ornaments you add to your Christmas tree every year, these extra pounds don’t make life shinier and brighter.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to fight the holiday battle of the bulge. Read on for five tips aimed at helping you stay festively fit this December.
1. Practice portion control.
Eating right during the holiday doesn’t mean giving up all of your favorite foods. After all, where’s the joy in that? Instead, keep portions small so you can still indulge without overdoing it. One small way to avoid overloading your plate is to survey the buffet before making your choices so you can limit your choices to those which appeal most to you.
2. Snack smart.
Anyone who’s ever starved themselves for an entire day to prepare for feasting at a party later that day knows how this story ends, particularly once alcohol enters the equation and inhibitions exit. To avoid piling up your plate at the buffet, stock up on healthy snacks and nosh on them before you leave for the party. Snack mixes are a fun and tasty solution…and portable, too! Check out CookingLight’s roundup of 10 Snack Mix Recipes and never go hungry again.
3. Embrace exercise.
You may feel like you don’t have enough time to work out during the holidays, but exercising can be a vital part of weight management, not to mention that moving your body helps you feel better, too. Scheduling time for exercise is the best way make sure you can fit it into your busy schedule.
In addition to going to the gym, you can also add more movement to your life by taking the stairs at work, parking your car a distance away from your destination, and getting in your squats and burpees while you’re watching television at night. (A personal trainer can help you customize the perfect workout for when you can’t make it to the gym. To get started, sign up for a personal trainer session at Brick Bodies today.)
4. Think satisfied, not stuffed.
You’ve seen the Friends episode featuring Joey’s Thanksgiving (AKA maternity) pants. Just because it’s a holiday meal doesn’t mean you have to overeat. In addition to practicing portion control, adopting a more mindful mindset can help you avoid excessive eating. Specifically, research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that eating slower led to less hunger and increased feelings of fullness after a meal.
5. Share the health.
Have a healthy holiday food that you love? Prepare to share the wealth (and health)! By bringing it as your contribution to holiday festivities, you can ensure that there’ll be a nutrition option on the menu that you actually want to eat. Our picks? EatingWell’s Honey-Glazed Roasted Delicata Squash (extra points for its make-ahead ease); Food Network’s “slimmed down” Green Bean Casserole; and the Mayo Clinic’s Artichokes Alla Romana.
The holidays don’t have to be an obstacle to your weight loss plan. Instead, use these five tips to enjoy the season without sacrificing your fitness goals. While you’re at it, make sure to check out another great resource for eating right this December, our free ebook, “12 Healthy Dessert Recipes“