6 Tips To Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a time when friends, families and colleagues gather to celebrate — and eat! Indulgent meals, heaping portions, holiday parties… it’s no surprise the festive season presents even more challenges to maintain a healthy lifestyle than throughout the rest of the year. Busy schedules lead to less sleep and make it even more difficult to fit exercise into the day. Plus the logistics of holiday planning and commitments add stress. Combined, these factors seem like an inevitable recipe for weight gain.

Studies show that the average adult in Western societies gains about one to two pounds per year, and most of that is gained over the holiday season. Two pounds may not seem like a lot, but over 10 years, that’s 20 pounds!

So, can holiday weight gain be avoided?

Here are 6 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season:

  1. Snack Wisely

Unhealthy snacks like cookies, tend to be readily available. When treats are easy to access, we’re more likely to snack unnecessarily. At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of the house. If you do need to bring the snacks home, keep them out of sight. Understandably, snacking is more difficult to avoid in situations that are out of your control, such as the workplace or a family gathering. In these situations, try to be mindful of your habits. If you find yourself munching just because there’s food around- and not because you’re hungry- it’s best to avoid snacking altogether. Be aware and intentional about which treat you choose. If you are hungry and need a snack, always opt for real, whole foods: vegetables, nuts, fruits and seeds are filling snacks and don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats- both of which can lead to weight gain.

  1. Practice Mindful Eating

Holiday season has us feeling rushed and frequently leads to multitasking during and in between meals. Studies show that those who eat while distracted, are more likely to overeat because they’re unable to pay attention to the body’s fullness signals. Practice eating mindfully and minimize distractions – including work and electronics. Try to chew slowly and thoroughly, which allows you to better recognize your body’s fullness signals and consume fewer calories. Keep your full attention on your plate and enjoyment of the meal, rather than your to-do list.

  1. Control Your Stress Level

Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful, and stressed individuals commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s associated with weight gain. Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause increased cravings for junk food. It is important to keep stress levels under control in general – but especially during the holidays, when you might be busy and surrounded by unhealthy foods, triggering friends and family, and exhausted from all the planning and activities. Fortunately, plenty of techniques can help you reduce stress. A few simple options include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and getting plenty of sleep.

  1. Focus on Fiber

Why? Because fiber is an important nutrient that induces fullness and can reduce total calorie intake. Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to eat fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Keep processed foods to a minimum. How? Eat foods that look as close to their natural state as possible. For example, opt for a baked potato rather than a potato chip. Grab an apple and skip the apple juice for an on-the-go snack.

  1. Bring a Healthy Dish to Share

It can be easy to overeat- or focus on high sugar, high fat, or alcohol all high in calories when you are surrounded by them at holiday parties.

One simple trick is to bring your own healthy dish to share. This way, you can guarantee you’ll have something to eat that aligns with your weight goals. Once you arrive at the party, focus on your favorites and ditch the rest, including sugary beverages and alcohol.

  1. Practice Self-Monitoring

 Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays can remind you of your weight goals, allowing you to take action before significant weight gain sets in. Studies suggest that adults who weigh themselves regularly maintain or lose weight better than those who don’t weigh themselves. Find a routine that works best for you. Some find it beneficial to check their weight daily, while others prefer once or twice a week.

The bottom line: Although one pound of weight gain after the holiday seems benign, over the course of a lifetime it can add up to an amount that significantly impacts your health.  Understand the importance of physical activity, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep.  Stay on top of your weight goals using tips and tricks to help you stay on track.

Evexia Medical is a doctor founded and operated nutrition and weight management practice specializing in weight loss, prevention of weight regain and optimal health. The first step is an Initial Health Assessment with the medical doctor for an in-depth evaluation and treatment plan recommendation. Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling 561-621-1096.

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