By Rachel Turi, Jackson In Action Contributor
It can seem impossible not to gain weight over the holidays with the endless amounts of scrumptious food everywhere you look. In fact, the average weight gain over the holiday season is two to five pounds. Though it may not appear significant, research shows that the weight tends to stay on after the holiday season, and then increases each year. Weight gain during the holidays isn’t a given- -it can be prevented by maintaining a balanced diet all year round, in addition to practicing a few simple tips during the holiday season. With just a few strategies, you can avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and the holiday feast!
Tips for Success
1. Don’t skip meals. Cutting out meals in the days or weeks leading up to the holiday in an attempt to lose weight before the holidays come will only make you more likely to overeat when the holiday meals do come along. Instead, just practice well-balanced and healthful eating leading up to the holidays, including adequate fruits, vegetable, lean proteins, high fiber foods and whole grains.
2. Avoid overeating. Even if the foods are perceived as a healthier option, do not help yourself to serving after serving of them. Remember, you can over eat even the healthier options, as they still have calories. Try to balance portions of everything on your plate at the holiday meal.
3. Veggies first. To avoid overeating, try using a smaller plate. First fill your plate with vegetable and salad options before adding the entrees and desserts to the plate. Eating a salad or vegetable first can help you eat fewer calories overall, stay fuller longer, and feel more satisfied overall. This way you are more likely to get a larger amount of the vegetables and smaller portions of the higher-calorie entrees and desserts.
4. Slowly savor. Enjoy every bite. Before continuing to eat, take a few seconds to pause and feel if you really are still hungry, or if your stomach is full.
5. Play your part. If you are bringing a snack or dish to the holiday gathering, make it a healthier option. Bring something like a fruit or vegetable tray, roasted vegetable side dish, salad, lean meat option, whole grain pasta salad, or a health-conscious entrée. This would allow you and your family members to have a healthy option, and they don’t even have to know it!
6. Be mindful of beverages. Beverages can be a sneaky way of adding extra calories to your diet, without adding substance. Try to avoid sugar-sweetened and high-calorie beverages, to allow you to enjoy more of the food options, while avoiding excessive calorie intake. Try drinking water with a lemon, tea, or coffee instead of punch or hot cocoa at the holiday gathering.
7. Moderation, moderation, moderation! You don’t necessarily need to completely avoid the desserts and treats, but choose smaller portions, and eat these foods in moderation. Try only one dessert option, or if you really want to try two options, only have half of each piece to equal a whole piece.
8. Exercise is key. Avoiding holiday weight gain isn’t all about the food, however. Physical activity is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Activity is a useful tool for staying healthy during the holidays just as it is during all times of the year. In addition to getting adequate exercise leading up to and after the holidays, try getting extra activity on the actual holiday. After the holiday meal, get moving! This would be a great time to gather up the family and going outside to playing a game of football, or simply going out for a walk with the whole crew. Stay mindful of your eating during the holidays, as well as your activity level!