January 28, 2020 by Ana Belzarena Genovese M.D.
10 Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain During the Holidays
While the holidays are usually not the best time to try and lose weight, it is possible to avoid gaining weight. Here are 10 tips to help you prevent packing on the pounds from all the food and drink that’s plentiful during the holiday season. The goal is to maintain your current weight.
- Weigh Yourself. Make friends with your scale. Weigh yourself regularly to keep yourself accountable and steadfast on the goal of maintaining your current weight.
- Track What You Eat and Drink. This is another way to keep tabs on yourself. Use a food journal or mobile app to track everything you eat and drink each day. Studies show that tracking your food and drink intake leads to better weight management.
- Scratch Screen Time at Meal Time. Encourage more mindful meals by banning cell phones at the table. Focus on meaningful conversations and connections with friends and family can help slow down the pace of eating, increasing the chance for making mindful decisions about what to eat and ultimately, less calories consumed. And everyone could use a break from screen time.
- Snack Easy. Eating between meals can easily pack on the pounds. Before you grab a quick bite, try drinking no-calorie water first. Hunger is often mistaken for dehydration. If you need a snack, select fruit, whole grains or cut up vegetables like carrots or zucchini.
- Get Enough Zzzzs. It’s a busy time of year. Adequate sleep is often last on the to-do list. But it’s important to know how sleep affects your weight. “When the body is tired, it has higher levels of ghrelin – the eat-more hormone,” said Ms. Cathy Clark-Reyes, registered dietitian with Baptist Health Primary Care. And remember to incorporate relaxation time into your busy holiday schedule. People who sleep less than seven hours a night consume more calories during the day.
- Move. Don’t let the busyness of the holidays sidetrack exercise. “Holiday time does not need to be synonymous with weight gain,” said Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Baptist Health South Florida. “After a big meal, encourage family and friends to participate in movement-centered activities, such as going for a group walk or playing a friendly game of football instead of sitting and watching football on TV.”
- Limit Alcohol. Liquid calories can add up quickly. And consuming too much lessens impulse control which can lead to overeating. To keep calories at bay, limit how much alcohol you drink. Cut a drink’s sugar content by pouring half alcohol and half club soda or tonic water.
- Watch the Sugar. Staying away from soda, fruit juice, sports drinks and other sugary drinks can save hundreds of calories a day.The average American consumes 45 gallons of sweetened beverages a year – the equivalent of 360 pounds of extra sugar, according to one study. So put the sugarplum fairies to sleep. Instead of eating sweet baked goods and other sugar-laden food bountiful this time of year, load up on healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Feature Fruits and Vegetables. Balance your meals with enough fruit and vegetables. Each plate should be made up of two-thirds fruit or vegetables. Keep a basket of fruit on the counter and make it your go-to when you need a snack.
- Be Grateful. Work a few quiet minutes into the end of each day during the holidays to reflect on all you have to be thankful for. This is, after all, the focus of the holiday season. Writing down reasons for which you’re thankful is proven to ease stress and increase happiness, which can cut down on emotional eating. Write at least one a day and try not to repeat the same reason in the same week.
With a little thought and focus it is possible to maintain, and not gain, weight this holiday season.