The holidays have arrived once again and many of us are planning a variety of events to celebrate the season! Invariably those events will involve, if not revolve around, tasty and tempting food and drinks which may be distressing for those also wishing to manage their waistlines.
Holiday weight gain—or not?
Surprisingly there has been minimal research on the topic of holiday weight gain. While anecdotal reports and surveys suggest weight gain up to 10 pounds, one scientific study suggests the actual weight gain may be closer to a single pound! Although this data may be skewed as participants in the study were aware their weight was being monitored. Nonetheless, it is difficult to refute that our foodscape broadens dramatically over the next 6-8 weeks.
1. Regular meals
Consume your normally scheduled meals on the days you will attend a holiday event. Skipping meals, although a common strategy for many, will likely result in overeating of high calorie foods at holiday events.
2. Go veggie
Fill up on salad and vegetable and bean-based soups first before hitting the heavy entrees. You’ll put a dent in your appetite and get fiber and antioxidants to boot!
3. Join the small plate movement
At buffet-style events choose the smallest possible plate to trick yourself into eating less. Using small plates is a proven method for reducing calories year round.
4. Moderate alcohol intake
If drinking alcoholic beverages, alternate with a non-caloric beverage. Research suggests alcohol also impairs our judgment about our food intake.
5. Move more
A brisk walk on your lunch hour is a great way to offset some of the additional calories and perhaps more importantly reduce the stress that accompanies this hectic time.
6. Weekly weigh-ins
Get on the scale once or twice a week to monitor what’s happening. This behavior is one of the weight management strategies recommended by the National Weight Control Registry based in Denver, CO.
7. Assess your hunger and fullness
The message is simple: avoid the extremes of getting over hungry which leads to overeating and feeling uncomfortable stuffed! Assess your hunger-fullness scale throughout the day and at holiday events!
Shift Your Focus
As a former full-time nutrition consultant I counseled many people seeking weight loss goals during the holiday season and invariably found these weight loss attempts to be unsuccessful. Rather than focusing on weight loss during this time I recommend shifting your emphasis to maintaining your current weight which is a more realistic and achievable goal. Even better yet, set yourself a non-weight related goal like lowering your blood pressure, blood sugar, or blood cholesterol levels via healthier habits. Think of it as an End-of-Year resolution!
Have another tip on how to curb calories or a healthy twist on a favorite holiday recipe? Please share!