12 Tips To Avoid Weight Gain During The Holidays
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Ah the joyous holiday season. A season full of family and friend gatherings, holiday parties, shopping, and.... weight gain? Just like the notorious freshmen fifteen, holiday weight gain is a real phenomenon. In fact for most, the holiday season is a true test of willpower.
Many individuals start off the season with a defeated mindset almost expecting the same weight gain scenario year after year. I hear often in my office, ”I'm just going to start up again in the New Year because it's not even worth fighting." If you are reading this and nodding your head right now I'm here to tell you it really doesn't have to be this way AND no I'm not going to tell you to put down your grandmas famous apple pie.
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I want all my patients to succeed in this busy and trying time of year, so I came up with 12 tips that can help you enter in the new year without new pounds on the scale. So without further ado here it is:
1. Practice the MyPlate concept
If you're not familiar with MyPlate this is what replaced the food pyramid and it’s super helpful for a few reasons. It's a visualization on how to build a balanced healthy plate. This is a perfect strategy to use at those holiday work parties. Try filling up 1/2 your plate with vegetables, 1/4 with a lean protein source, and 1/4 with a grain. Just by using your plate it can help you gauge more appropriate portion sizes without feeling lost without a measuring cup or food scale.
2. Honor Your Hunger and Satiety Cues - Wait Before Taking Seconds
It takes about 20-30 minutes for Leptin (AKA our "satiety hormone") to kick in. Often times we eat our meals in 5-10 minutes, which is not a sufficient amount of time for our body to catch up. This is why for many of us, 30-45 minutes after having seconds or thirds we feel that over-stuffed, glutinous feeling. Try to wait another 10 minutes before going for seconds or slow down your eating, engaging in mindful eating and good conversation.
3. Joyful Movement
It doesn't have to be knocking yourself out to get to the gym. This time is so hectic, sometimes it's easier to just adjust and find something else rather than quitting activity all together. Go for a brisk walk before a meal, park further while you're running your (1 million) errands, play a fun Wii sports game with the family, or some good 'ol fashioned dancing.
4. Don't Skip Meals to "Save" Calories
Please, please, please don't use this mindset. It's not doing your body any service. You'll end up eating more during that one meal you're "saving" up for than if you just had your normal structured meals beforehand. Not to mention you end up putting your body in a fasted/starvation mode which causes your metabolism to slow down thus, causing your body to hold onto those calories more so. Slow metabolism = resistance towards weight loss and sometimes weight gain.
5. Mindful Eating - Be Savvy with Your Selections
Remove the mindset that you'll wait until the New Year because a lot of times this is the mindset that gets us into this predicament In the first place. Be selective, focus in on the foods you really enjoy and look forward to all year. Choose those and leave the rest that don't “tickle your fancy“ quite as much. We tend to just pile things onto our plate and eat it for the sake of eating because it's there instead of really paying attention to what we truly enjoy.
6. Don't Restrict Yourself
This is just as detrimental as piling anything and everything onto your plate. When we restrict, our minds tend to just continue to bug us until we give in. More times than not a patient will state they didn't have something until 2 days later when they "caved" and ended up eating an entire heaping serving size of this particular food. Pick a few things that you enjoy, eat it, savor it, and move on.
7. Fill Up On Fiber
Fiber is a persons best friend especially when weight loss is their goal. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, quinoa, etc.), beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are amazing sources of fiber. Try to aim for these foods during dinner because they add more bulk to our stomachs which helps us get full, stay full, and prevent overeating.
8. Get Enough Sleep
With the hectic schedules and events it's hard to get enough sleep when there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night is helpful for both our waistlines and our sanity. Our stress hormone, cortisol will start to peak if we get under 5 hours of sleep, which can cause a spike in our appetite, ultimately causing overeating.
9. Avoid Alcohol on an Empty Stomach
Although alcohol is a huge part of the holidays try not to indulge if you haven't eaten anything yet. Alcohol can cause an increase in appetite and a decrease in our ability to control what we eat. Plus, no matter the alcohol its calorically dense (7 calories per gram) and we end up drinking our calories in addition to eating them.
10. Plan Ahead - Especially for Those Holiday Parties
If you're going to a holiday party and can access the menu beforehand, try to glance at the items on there to see what you're working with. We tend to make rash decisions when we don't have a plan. If you're not sure what is going to be served come up with a general game plan for when you get there (i.e. half your plate with veggies, fruit along with a small piece of pie, etc.).
11. Mix in More Healthy Options into the Usual Running
I'm all for enjoying those traditional old-time family recipes so keep doing those. If you feel as though your table could use some more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains try making new traditions and adding those into the mix as well. if you’re going to a friend/family members house, offer to bring some food items and focus on healthy options. You’ll look great for bringing food and you’ll help yourself (and everyone else there) with widening up the options to things that are more nutritionally sound.
12. Don't Weigh Yourself Everyday
This is a tough one for most of us. It's normal for our body to fluctuate between 5 lbs which is crazy. Weighing yourself everyday can get discouraging and cause that mentality of "ugh I gained 2 lbs in one day... forget it!" Sodium, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can all cause our bodies to hold onto water. 9/10 times this is not true weight gain, rather just some excess fluid your body is taking a little extra time to expel. I wouldn’t avoid the scale all together, but try to keep a healthy scale habit of weighing yourself once per week in the morning on the same day. This helps keep us on track without losing our minds with the (normal) weight fluctuations.
So there you have it. My 12 tips from this Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to survive the holiday weight gain this season! I hope this has shed light on some key points to hone into during this time of year. If you liked this content from me and want more of this make sure you click the heart/like button on the bottom and share on Facebook!
Until Next Time & Happy Holidays From The Rite Bite Nutrition!
P.S. My January is already starting to book for all those New Years Resolutions! If you're interested in getting more individualized nutrition coaching you can call us at 631-509-5544 or schedule your appointment by clinking the link below: