Many people gain a small amount of weight every year. But did you know most people gain that extra weight over the holidays? To be fair, average holiday weight gain is usually just one pound. Those pounds add up year after year if you continuously brush them off.
Here at Health First Primary Care in Tampa, Florida, our experienced board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Gisela Vargas, specializes in weight management. We want to share some tips on how you can enjoy the holidays without the weight gain.
1. Stick to your usual meal routine
Between shopping, baking, and get-togethers, the holidays make it difficult to stick to your usual meal routine. You may skip meals and end up overeating later in the day.
To avoid holiday weight gain, continue to eat your regular meals around the same time each day.
2. Don’t let the holiday stress get to you
As noted above, the holidays tend to add more to your to-do list. The extra demands can be overwhelming and raise your stress levels. It isn’t uncommon to turn to food to cope with stress. And with all the holiday goodies, you may overindulge in high-fat, high-sugar treats.
Instead of food, find healthier ways to limit your holiday stress such as exercise, meditation, or simply sitting down and listening to your favorite holiday music.
3. Eat your fruits and vegetables
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says filling up on fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Low in calories and high in fiber, fruits and vegetables keep you feeling full and may limit your desire to nibble on holiday treats.
4. Stock up on healthy snacks
From November through the New Year, it may feel like you can’t escape the tins, trays, and packages of seasonal goodies.
To keep yourself from grabbing one of the holiday cookies from the tray in the breakroom, keep a stash of your own healthy snacks to limit the temptation, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, whole-grain crackers, and low-fat cheese.
5. Don’t go to a party hungry
You aren’t alone if you “save room” so you can eat to your heart’s content when you get to the holiday party. This plan may backfire, however, if you show up to the party ravenously hungry, losing all self-control and eating more calories than you intend.
Before you head out the door, eat a small snack, such as a handful of nuts or low-fat yogurt, to curb your hunger and stay in control.
6. Create a healthy plate
Holiday parties often include a buffet of food options. If you’re trying to avoid holiday weight gain, create a healthy plate when you hit the food line.
Fill half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables, one-quarter of your plate with healthy proteins, and the other one-quarter with your starch.
7. Limit the holiday cocktails
Wine, eggnog, and holiday cocktails are filled with empty calories and sugar. Before you know it, you may consume a meal's worth of liquid calories before your holiday feast.
To keep a lid on holiday weight gain, drink only one or two holiday cocktails, and then switch over to water.
8. Allow yourself one treat a day
The holidays can be particularly tough for those with a sweet tooth, but there’s no need to deprive yourself of all the holiday goodies. To satisfy your need for sweet, allow yourself one portion-controlled treat a day, and take your time to savor every bite.
9. Burn off the extra calories with activity
Staying active is one of the best ways to burn off the extra calories from all the holiday goodies. Taking a brisk 15-minute walk after each meal or adding an extra 15 minutes to your usual workout routine can help you burn off the extra calories, so you can avoid the holiday weight gain.
10. Get a good night’s rest
You may sacrifice sleep to be able to fit in all the activities during the holiday season. However, sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain. According to the Mayo Clinic, the less people sleep, the more they weigh.
Don’t let the holidays deprive you of your sleep. Aim for a solid seven to nine hours each night to help prevent holiday weight gain.
The holidays are filled with traditions, but weight gain doesn’t have to be one of them. If you’re struggling to manage your weight, we can help. Call the Tampa, Florida, office nearest you, or request an appointment online.