Thank you for taking time out of your busy (hopefully not stressful) holiday schedule to read this post! It may do you some good! The holidays are for celebrating, spending time with friends and family, traditions and gratefulness. Unfortunately, it’s also usually a time for overeating and unwanted weight-gain. We’re here to help! Here are helpful tips to guide you to avoiding holiday weight gain and instead help you enjoy a healthy, holiday season:
1. Don’t “Save Up”
We often prepare for feast by skipping meals, but this can lead us into the danger-zone where all we can think about is food and our eyes become much bigger than our stomachs. We often feel ravenous and overindulge only to feel guilty later on. Can promote binge eating and doesn’t allow for mindfulness during meals. Instead of “saving up”, eat balanced meals throughout the day. Aim to make half your plate non-starchy vegetables, include high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other high-fiber carbohydrates like sweet potatoes. and make sure to stay hydrated!
2. Plan Ahead and Pay Attention
It’s easy to make poor food choices when you’re caught off guard. Think: you didn’t bring a snack to work and that candy bowl in the break room is calling your name. Preparation and mindfulness are keys to staying on track during the holiday season and avoiding the typical holiday weight gain. Create and healthy and flexible meal-plan to help you stay on track! No matter what though, practice mindful eating, eat slow and enjoy your food!
3. Stay Hydrated
Often times, when we’re dehydrated our mind pushes us to eat. Not because it’s confusing hunger and thirst, rather, our bodies know they can get fluid from foods. But this can lead to extra calories, and be especially bad when consuming alcohol. Aim to drink at least 8 8-oz. glasses of water per day and drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to keep the extra calories in check. Make your water interesting by adding lemons or cucumber or even try adding herbs like mint and basil! A cup of unsweetened tea can also add to your hydration and is cozy and warm in the cool weather of winter.
4. Focus on the Favorites
The holidays are often centered on food and especially food that we don’t get to enjoy the rest of the year. Luckily, we can still have our cake and eat it too. Love your Aunt Martha’s apple pie? Enjoy and portion of that favorite and savor every last bite. When enjoying your favorite holiday treats, forgo the items you can have anytime or that just aren’t to your liking. Restricting can lead to negative feelings and often make you want to indulge even more! Instead, really savor your favorites. Eat slowly and pay attention to the flavors, textures and smells of all the wonderful food available during the holidays.
5. Go Easy on the Alcohol
Alcohol can lower our inhibitions, cause us to drink and/or eat more and often contribute a lot of calories, especially when it comes from a calorie-laden beverage like eggnog. Sipping on one alcoholic beverage over an hour can help you drink less and being mindful of what you’re drinking can also help. Try choosing a simple vodka soda with lime to keep the added sugar at a minimum.
6. Bring a Balanced Dish
If possible, offer to bring a dish to share to your next holiday gathering. That way, you know you will have at least one dish that can help you stay on track. Aim for a side of vegetables or fruit, salad or maybe even a healthier dessert that focuses on fruit! No matter what you choose to prepare, aim to include lots of fiber-rich produce for some added nutrients.
7. Enjoy a Balanced Breakfast
Science shows the importance of breakfast to help prevent overeating later and this is especially true during the holidays when everywhere we turn, we can indulge in sweet treats like cookies and candies. Especially if you feel you’ve overeaten in the days prior, skipping breakfast can be a recipe for continued overeating. Breakfast can be an essential tool in your survival of the holiday weight gain, but steer clear of the pastries and cookies. Aim for a nutrient-dense and balanced breakfast to start your day off on the right foot. It is important for a balanced breakfast to include protein, healthy fats and fiber (aim for some fiber-packed veggies!).
Here are a few examples:
- 1 whole grain English muffin with an egg, tomato, sautéed spinach and avocado. Season with pepper and a dash of sea salt!
- 1 brown rice cake with 1-2 tablespoons almond butter, ½ banana and a sprinkle of chia seeds
- ½ cup oatmeal with a handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans) and frozen berries. Add some cinnamon for some extra flavor!
8. Get Adequate Sleep
Research shows people who get less sleep also tend to weigh more. Why is this? Well the research suggests people who get less sleep tend to eat more as food provides energy and more hours awake means more hours to eat! People who sleep less also tend to exercise less owning to the fact that they’re tired! Lastly, sleep deprivation can mess with our hunger and fullness hormones making us feel hungrier throughout the day.
To help you stay on track with your sleep try these tips:
- Turn electronics off 30 minutes before bed as the light emitted from these electronics activates our wakefulness hormones and can lead to difficulties falling asleep
- Establish a bedtime routine. Even adults need a bedtime routine to signal their brains that it’s time to go to bed. Consider reading or going for an evening walk to help wind down.
- Avoid caffeine too late in the day.
9. Get Some Activity!
It is extremely important to make time for some physical activity throughout your day. Even a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood can be a great way to get some fresh air and get your body moving! Your normal workout routine will probably shift and change, but don’t use that as an excuse to not do ANYTHING.
10. Raise Your Standards
Lastly, you have to raise your standards high enough that you value your health during the holiday seasons. Raise your standards that no activity is just not good enough for you. Raise your standards that not having nutritious meals prepared on a daily basis is not acceptable. No one else is going to care and do the work for you. You have to care enough to not put off taking care of yourself until 2018. Put your foot down and say “NO!” to falling victim to the holiday weight gain!
Wishing you and your family a healthy holiday season!
TNT Nutrition Coach, RD