By Tosh Patterson, Department of Resident Life staff member, Wellness Coach
Do you know what 40% of Americans DREAD about the holidays?
Gift shopping? Nope. Traveling? Nope. Seeing certain relatives? Well, maybe, but that’s not it either.
What 40% of Americans dread most about the holidays: WEIGHT GAIN.
The weight gained during the holidays often becomes the unwanted, non-returnable gift that keeps on giving. Not losing the weight gained each holiday season and post-holiday period could result in steady weight gain year after year.
Here are 5 simple, but proven, tips to help you avoid holiday weight gain this time around.
Tip 1: Load up on veggies and fruits. Play with your food and look for ways to incorporate more veggies into your breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Eating low-energy-dense foods such as vegetables and fruit during the holidays (and beyond) will create a sense of fullness and, thereby, help you consume less calorie-rich foods.
Research shows the feeling of fullness people experience after eating is more a function of the volume of food consumed rather than the number of calories or grams of fat, carbohydrate or protein consumed. In other words, the amount of food we eat, rather than calorie content, is what signals us to either continue or stop eating. Better to eat more vegetables and fruit to create a feeling of fullness than an array of dessert options at holiday parties.
Tip 2: Keep your body moving. Do not abandon a regular exercise routine during the holidays. Concentrate on consistently doing simple workouts. Don’t despair if you can’t get to your favorite yoga class or find time for the treadmill. Even just 15 minutes can help you maintain your fitness level and counteract extra indulgent treats. For example, jumping rope for 15 minutes torches about 190 calories.
Tip 3: Be conscious of calories. Compared to other times of the year, the amount of calories consumed during the winter holidays increases dramatically. Make no mistake about it, calories can add up unsuspectingly fast. Be especially mindful of the calories in your beverages – there are lots of them in hot chocolate, eggnog, and alcoholic drinks. Consider if you would prefer to eat or drink your calories.
Tip 4: Plan and scan at holiday parties. Be picky, picky, picky. Scan the buffet and fill your plate with foods that are less processed and prepared in a way that you can easily identify the ingredients. Sit down and take your time to taste and savor every bite. Resist the urge to go back for more by waiting at least 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are comfortably full. If you are still hungry, eat more vegetables and drink water.
When it comes to dessert, practice the three-bite rule to keep your sweet tooth in check. Take a first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite.
Tip 5: Manage stress. You may find aspects of the holiday season hectic and stressful for any number of reasons. If someone is stressing you out, remove yourself from that situation and take a few deep breaths. Another great way to manage stress this time of year is getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each night.
These proven strategies will help you ward off unwanted and unhealthy weight gain this holiday season. And, if you do splurge, don’t beat yourself up. Reset mentally and get right back to a normal patter of eating and exercising.
Share with us! What are your strategies to avoid weight gain during the holidays?