Avoid weight gain this season with a holiday health plan!
The season of giving is upon us—but it’s also the season of gaining. The typical American gains about two pounds from mid-November through New Year’s Day and, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most people will only lose one of these two pounds in the new year. With pounds adding up every winter, a decade of celebrating the holiday season can be an overlooked factor in adult obesity.
Just consider those upcoming office parties with cookies, happy hours with out-of-towners, and house parties with greasy, salty snacks and sugary treats. Not only can your healthy eating plan take a hit, but all that time celebrating can also affect your exercise routine.
Enjoy the holidays without all the added calories
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for adults—with yearend deadlines, multiple holiday parties, shopping for loved ones and traveling all condensed into a few short weeks. While fun, all the extra activity can make it harder to eat healthy.
But you can help yourself this holiday season by simply planning your week in advance. Outline your to-do list for the week to plan time for everything you need to do, including shopping for and preparing healthy food.
Create an eating plan to help you avoid weight gain
When you do celebrate with friends and family, arrive with an eating plan to help you make healthy food choices. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Don’t arrive hungry. When you’re going to a party, have a nutritious snack or lunch beforehand so you aren’t spending the party next to the snack table. And if you can’t get a snack in early, drink plenty of water right before you head to the snacks—it’ll help reduce your hunger.
- Focus on the party, not the food. Don’t let your holiday parties be defined by the foods and drinks being served. Instead, turn your attention to the rest of the party—the people, the music, dancing and games. Changing your focus can help you avoid filling up on junk food and enjoy your surroundings, guilt free.
- Take it easy on the alcohol. Alcohol and partying are commonly linked together, but that doesn’t mean your holiday parties are excuses to drink more than the recommended limits. Alcoholic drinks are just empty calories that also increase your desire to eat more. By limiting your drinks to two or fewer, you keep your calorie intake manageable.
- Enjoy your sweets—in small portions. Portion control helps you control weight gain while still enjoying a quick bite of something sweet. Sugary foods are loaded with calories and, when eaten frequently, can lead to serious health issues—including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. So just have a couple candies, or a small piece of cake. You can also target more dark chocolates, which have high levels of the healthy cacao bean and low levels of added sugar.
- Walk more frequently. The holidays can give you the opportunity to get more steps in during your week than usual, as you walk your way through department, fashion and grocery stores. Limiting your bad food intake and staying active can even lead to some holiday weight loss!
- Choose healthier options. Cheese and cured meat platters are tempting, but there’s plenty of healthier options you can enjoy. Try vegetable/fruit platters with healthy dips, protein-packed hors d’oeuvres, such as hummus, and healthy snack mixes with nuts and cereals instead of salty, greasy appetizers.
- Freeze your leftovers. By putting the leftovers in the freezer instead of the fridge, you’re giving your body time to burn off that holiday meal instead of doubling up on it in the same week. You can also gift away your leftovers in Ziplock bags to guests so you won’t be tempted later.
- Keep doing what’s kept you healthy the rest of the year. Do you normally exercise before work? Do you eat salads for lunch? When the holidays hit, most people let the season keep them from their healthy routines. If you’re one of those people, try to keep your healthy choices this year. Or at least balance your compromises by working out longer after some restricted holiday party eating.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.