The holiday season is usually a time filled with family get-togethers, office parties and plenty of opportunities to indulge in your favorite holiday treats. Due to all of these festive activities, it’s not uncommon to gain weight in the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
This weight gain could continue into the winter months, or it can be hard to drop these pounds once the holiday season is over. While the claims that some people gain an average of five, seven or 10 pounds during the holidays are often exaggerated, eating more junk food during this time of year could potentially lead to unhealthy habits for months to come.
However, there are a few easy ways to keep the holiday weight gain at bay this time of year:
- Celebrate in moderation
If you’re attending an office party or big family dinner, eat in moderation to avoid weight gain. Eat a healthy snack before the party, so that you don’t arrive like a hungry Santa ready to wolf down all the Christmas cookies. At a party, a good rule of thumb is to spend more time socializing than eating.
- Drink and be merry, but stick to your limit
Some seasonal beverages, like eggnog, can be loaded with sugar and unnecessary calories. For adults, it’s okay to have some beer or wine during a holiday gathering, but don’t overdo it. Certain holiday cocktails can be filled with “liquid” calories, which can easily lead to holiday weight gain. Alcohol also lessens your inhibitions, which could result in overindulging on snacks and treats. Don’t forget to factor in alcoholic beverages into your daily caloric intake plan.
- Enjoy holiday treats — without stuffing yourself like turkey
If you’re on a weight-loss plan or don’t want to gain weight during the holidays, there are ways to eat some of your favorite holiday foods while still sticking to your diet. If you eat some treats at the office, balance it out with a workout the next day. Or, make a plan to be more physically active throughout the holiday season as a way to ward off any weight gain.
During holiday dinners, especially on Thanksgiving, one solution is to eat from a small plate and dole out smaller portions. This way, you still get to eat all your favorite foods but will be less tempted to eat too much. Portion control is a key part of maintaining your weight during the holidays.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you go overboard
Especially during the holidays, it’s hard to eat healthy at every meal. If you eat too much at a holiday party or over-do it on Thanksgiving, give yourself a little break. Usually, eating too much during a single meal won’t derail your diet. The main thing is to consistently eat healthy in the six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. After the party ends or the holiday family dinner is over, be mindful of eating too many unhealthy leftovers. Practice moderation, donate the leftovers to a food kitchen, or send the food home with relatives. This will help cut back on the whole family eating turkey with gravy, glazed ham, candied yams and pecan pie for a week after the big day.
- Resist the urge to hibernate like a polar bear
As the weather turns colder, it’s not uncommon for people to stop exercising or reduce the frequency of their workouts. This can also contribute to weight gain. It’s important to engage in physical activity year-round, which bolsters your immune system and helps you stay healthy.
Even 10 minutes of exercise, twice a day, can aid in preventing weight gain. These shorter bursts of physical activity, which could include Pilates, yoga, jumping jacks or a HIIT workout, can get your body moving and improve your mood. As exercise increases your endorphins, you’ll be in a better mindset to make healthier choices during mealtimes.