7 Tips To Help You Avoid Weight Gain During The Holiday Season
Holiday weight gain is a common concern for many adults.
Various seasonal holidays may encourage overeating, sedentary behaviour, and consumption of calorie-rich foods. In fact, between mid-November and mid-January, adults in Western societies gain an average of 1 pound (0.5 kg)
This may not seem like a lot, but most people don't lose this extra baggage. Therefore, holidays — no matter the time of year — may be one of the biggest contributors to your total annual weight gain.
That said, holiday weight gain is not inevitable.
Here are 7 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
1. Be active with family and friends
Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching TV, are common holiday traditions for many families.
Inactivity may contribute to weight gain especially if accompanied by overeating.
Doing some type of physical activity with your family may prove beneficial for weight control.
Even something as simple as a family walk can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.
2. Use smaller plates
Plate sizes have expanded significantly over the years.
Whenever possible, choose the smaller salad plate (8-10 inches) instead of a tray-like one (12 inches or more).
Using smaller plates can actually make us feel fuller with less food. The brain associates a big white space on the plate with less food (and smaller plates generally require smaller portions).
3. Eat and chew slowly
Eating slowly may not be easy when appetizer options are endless, but it pays off to pace yourself.
The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. So slow down and take a second to savour each bite of baked brie or scoop of spiced nuts.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep deprivation, which is quite common during the holidays, may cause weight gain.
This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories, and exercise less.
Sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.
Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This may be caused by alterations in your circadian rhythm — a biological clock that regulates many of your bodily functions.
5. Control your stress levels
Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.
Stressed individuals commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that's released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.
Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.
For these reasons, it's important to keep stress levels under control in general — but especially during the holidays, when you might be busy and surrounded by unhealthy foods.
Plenty of techniques can help you reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
6. Beware of booze
Not only does alcohol add unnecessary calories to your diet, but getting boozy has another effect on us, too.
Drinking too much in the presence of champagne, eggnog, wine, and beer can make us lose our inhibitions around food and start eating irresponsibly.
Take it easy with the bubbly before you start saying things like, "Eh, what's one more cookie?"
7. Serve meals restaurant-style.
When you sit down for the main event, leave food in the kitchen (away from reach) rather than display a basket full of piping hot rolls, multiple casseroles, and an entire turkey directly on the table.
When you’ve cleaned your plate, take a breather, and then decide if you really want seconds.
Changing up the environment—in this case, by leaving food near the stove—can help reduce overall food intake.