Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Try these eight simple tips to keep your waistline in check without depriving yourself
Every holiday season, we're surrounded with tempting treats from Halloween through the New Year: overflowing candy pails, lavish holiday feasts, decadent desserts, calorie-laden (and delicious) drinks. And after months of indulging, our waistlines often show it. So how can you enjoy the tastes of the season without packing on the pounds?
First, a reality check: Chances are, you'll gain only about a pound over the course of the season. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health say people often worry about putting on pounds at the holidays, but most gain only a small amount. Unfortunately, most people also never lose their holiday weight, so the pounds pile on over the years.
The best solution for weight gain at the holidays, or any other time, is prevention. The experts at the Cleveland Clinic recommend these tips for keeping your waistline in check without feeling deprived this holiday season:
- Exercise. Add a little extra to your exercise routine — or begin a reasonable one now — to counter extra calories from holiday eats and sweets. Try activities that get the whole family moving, like after-dinner walks, pickup football games and playing in the snow.
- Aim for seven servings of fruits and veggies each day. These low-calorie foods help fill you up and provide vital nutrients. To make fruits and vegetables more convenient and appealing, cut them up in advance or buy pre-cut versions.
- Keep temptations in check. It's often easier to avoid tempting foods than to turn them down. For example, you can stash healthy snacks instead of holiday candy in your desk at work, or avoid the break room where your coworkers drop off sweets to share.
- Allow yourself one small holiday treat each day. Sometimes you can't avoid temptation — or you just don't want to. You can indulge in moderation if you allow yourself up to one serving of a holiday food each day, then modify your other food intake and exercise to account for those calories.
- Plan ahead. If you're famished, eat a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday party. This will curb your hunger and make you less likely to overindulge in high-calorie hors d'oeuvres. You can also bring a healthy dish to a potluck to counter all the cookies and eggnog.
- Make smart party choices. At a party, it's important to pay attention to the quality and quantity of your eats and drinks. Emphasize low-calorie, high-nutrient foods. When you choose less-healthy items, take only one small serving.
- Practice saying "no." People often overeat at the holidays because they feel pressure to try every dish. Instead, eat what you want and say no politely. For example, you might say: "I can't eat another bite. Everything is so good."
- Socialize. Focus on catching up with your friends and family rather than food.
Remember: Holiday eating doesn't have to be stressful. Keep these simple tips in mind, and you'll be making smart decisions while enjoying all the best the season has to offer.