Do you worry about gaining weight over the holidays? This is a common concern for many people, so we wanted to share some tips on how to approach the holiday season with confidence in your food choices and your activities.
Holiday weight gain is not inevitable!
It’s true that the average adult in America gains around 1 pound during the holiday season (mid-November to mid-January). Despite this, you can still escape the season without any weight gain.
Below are 7 tips on how to increase your confidence in the food choices you make and activities you do throughout the holidays. These are sure to help you feel confident even when surrounded by platters of cakes, cookies, truffles, and pies!
Tips to Increase Confidence in your Food Choices & Activities during the Holidays
- Don’t restrict yourself completely from the holiday treats. This might sound a little odd, but when we restrict ourselves from our favorite foods and sweets, we tend to obsess over them and binge later. Enjoying your favorite treats can be part of a healthy diet. On days when you enjoy a treat, don’t count the day as a loss! Simply continue to balance out the rest of your meals.
- Plan a menu for the week. During the holiday season, we can often find ourselves running errands all day long and snacking on those neighborhood treats conveniently sitting on the table or stopping somewhere for take-out. If we have a menu in place, it can be much easier to make better food choices throughout the week. Plan to include easy-to-prepare meals and even some pre-made options for weeks you know will be busy. For example, we love Kevin’s chicken entrees at Costco that you can heat up and serve with rice and a frozen veggie. An easy-to-prepare meal might be slow-cooker chicken that you can shred and add to salads, wraps, and other dishes throughout the week. Remember, failing to plan is a plan to fail.
- Practice mindful eating. Feeling rushed can lead to mindless snacking and multitasking during meals. Studies show that those who eat while distracted (Netflix anyone?) are more likely to overeat. This is likely due to loss of attention to fullness cues. Prevent this by minimizing distractions during meals including the TV, other electronics, and work. Practice chewing slowly and thoroughly. This practice can also help you bond more with your family over a shared meal.
- Keep stress levels in check. The holidays can be stressful! Stress increases cortisol, a hormone that may cause weight gain. Keep stress under control by finding a peaceful practice that will be best for you. Some practices you might enjoy include meditation, exercise, getting outside, yoga, and deep breathing. We’ve noticed that most of our holiday stress stems from those last-minute events or preparing last-minute gifts. While you cannot predict when something last-minute may occur, you can make a schedule to plan for what you know will occur to avoid procrastination and the stress that accompanies it!
- Balance your meals. Holiday meals are often rich in carbs, and low in protein and fiber. Including more protein and fiber at meals can increase satiety, improve digestion, and aid in weight loss or maintenance. We recommend using lean protein sources like fish, chicken, beans, lentils, and soy. Fiber can be found in most plant-foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Keep nourishing snacks on hand. It seems that we are surrounded by holiday treats at work, home, and other events. Enjoying these treats here and there, or even once a day, can be totally okay. However, it can become easy to overindulge. Keeping healthful snacks on hand can help keep you full and satisfied. We recommend having mixed nuts, fruit, That’s It bars (dried fruit bars), dried edamame, roasted chickpeas, hummus and carrot sticks, Greek yogurt cups, low-fat cheese sticks, and/or RX bars in the fridge/pantry at all times. Bonus points for anyone who keeps healthy homemade snacks on-hand!
- Plan activities with family and friends. We know there are many days that we have planned ahead to spend with family. It can be hard to get a regular workout in during those days, which for some of us can be up to 3-4 weeks out of the season! Planning fun physical activities with family and friends can keep your body moving while still spending time with those you love. Some ideas include caroling, charades, Just Dance (an X-box/Wii game), doing a Turkey Trot (5K race the morning of Thanksgiving), building a snowman, sledding, hiking, going skiing/snowboarding, or doing a family track and field day.
Get help from a Registered Dietitian!
We hope some of these tips will help you approach the holidays with more confidence in your food choices. It seems that during the holiday season, many have a “I’ll start a diet on New Year’s Day” mentality, which can lead to regularly overindulging throughout the holidays and weight gain. There are still 7 weeks left in 2021, which means you have the potential to lose 7-14 pounds by New Year’s Day! If you want to approach the holidays with a plan, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians and we’d love to connect with you before the holidays are over!