10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain....by Wendy Arena
As the days grow shorter and colder and holiday festivities beckon, we tend to overindulge on seasonal treats and comfort foods. The feeding frenzy begins with Halloween candy in September and lingers on through pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. The holidays can be stressful and emotionally-charged for many of us. Combine this with the abundance of holiday goodies, and you’ve got a recipe for overeating. Holiday weight gain is not inevitable, though. We can enjoy our celebrations without packing on the pounds and get through winter without fattening up like bears preparing for hibernation. The following strategies can help you prepare:
1. Make a plan. Choose two or three foods that you absolutely love and can only have during the holidays. Egg nog? Pumpkin pie? Latkes? We all have our special favorites. Decide which ones you will have and enjoy them in moderation.
2. Spoil your appetite. Don’t show up to a holiday gathering absolutely famished. Have a protein- and fiber-rich snack (apple slices with peanut butter, cheese with whole-wheat crackers) ahead of time. That way you aren’t tempted to inhale an entire plate of cookies!
3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other decaffeinated, calorie free beverages throughout the day.
4. Don’t overdo the holiday spirits. Calories from alcohol add up quickly. Mix wine or hard liquor with seltzer and drink a glass of water or seltzer after every drink.
5. Don’t skimp on sleep. Sleep deprivation not only makes you groggy-it makes you hungry too! Lack of sleep interferes with hormones that control appetite, so you end up eating more. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
6. Keep moving. Make time to exercise, no matter how hectic your holiday schedule. If you do it first thing in the morning, there is less chance you’ll blow it off later in the day. Enlist a buddy to work out with so that you’re accountable to another person.
7. Get outside. Don’t’ let the cold and snow keep you indoors. Fresh air and natural light energize the body, mind, and spirit. Bundle up and dust off those snow shoes, sleds, and ice skates. There is plenty of winter fun to be had!
8. Take a time out before you eat. . Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Are you truly hungry, or are you tired, stressed, sad, angry, or bored? If you are truly, physically hungry, then, by all means, eat. Otherwise, take a few deep breaths, take a walk, call a friend, paint your nails, knit…basically do anything to distract yourself from the urge to eat.
9. Ditch New Year’s resolutions. Making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape puts us in the mindset that we need to eat like there is no tomorrow right up until New Year’s Day. Lose that all-or-nothing mentality. Find a new way to commemorate the New Year and make good health and fitness a year-round endeavor.
10. Practice Golden Rule-in reverse. Treat yourself the way you would treat others. Be kind and forgiving with yourself even when you overindulge. Just pick up where you left off and try harder next time. We all have good days and bad days-even during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Don’t throw in the towel if you overindulge on fudge or gingerbread. We are all works in progress.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person only gains about a pound during the holiday season. A pound might sound like much-until you consider that the average person will never lose that pound. Multiply that pound by 10 or fifteen years, however, and it becomes a little scary! The good news is, you don’t have to be a statistic.