10 Strategies to Help You Keep Your Weight in Check Through the Holiday

10 Strategies to Help You Keep Your Weight in Check Through the Holiday

The holiday season provides a fantastic opportunity to catch up with family, friends, and loved ones. Unfortunately, it can also provide a platform for an endless smorgasbord of tempting seasonal treats, including ones loaded with fat, calories, refined sugars, and processed ingredients.

Holiday indulgence in food and drink can add a few inches to your waistline, not to mention cause tears of regret during that first visit to the bathroom scale on New Year’s Day. So what is a person to do?

Worldwide studies on the holiday eating phenomenon indicate we think we gain more weight than we actually do. Many perceive themselves gaining five pounds in the weeks of late November through December, rather than the average additional pound.

Before you rejoice about this seemingly positive news, studies also caution these holiday pounds stubbornly hang on, causing increased gradual weight gain. This can lead to many health issues, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity, among others.

Experts recommend we focus on maintaining our current body weight through the holiday season, making it much easier to get “back on track” come the new year.

We’ve listed some strategies you can keep in mind to help you maintain your weight during the upcoming holiday season.

10 Strategies to Help You Keep Your Weight in Check Through the Holidays:

1. Have a healthy snack before attending festivities to curb hunger and lessen your chance of binging on holiday treats. Apples with peanut butter, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and Greek yogurt mixed with high-fiber cereal are great snacks to help quell the hunger.

2. Be mindful of what you are eating – and drinking -- at all times. This may sound difficult, but if you quickly scan the food table and bar area upon arrival, you can take note of what is offered and plan accordingly.
  • Many holiday calories come from what we nibble on before the meal is actually served. Cornell studies show if you eat a quarter of your usual snack and wait 15 minutes, you will feel as full as if you ate the entire portion.
  • Whole fruits and veggies are great options, as are whole-grain crackers, pita, hummus, a small serving of hard cheese, crudités, lean proteins like chicken or seafood, steamed or sautéed vegetables, green salad, and pasta salads loaded with veggies. Opt for vinegar and oil, low-fat, and vinaigrette dressings. Clear and broth-based soups also are good choices to help curb hunger. Watch out for calorie-laden, cream-based sauces and soups.
  • If you want to guarantee a healthier option for yourself, offer to bring a healthy dish to share.
  • Consciously stick to one serving and avoid second helpings and/or plates of food.

3. Plan your plate for lower calorie intake. Enjoy a small amount of appetizers like fresh veggies to limit main-course splurges. Use a 7-inch salad plate as your dinner plate and you’ll avoid adding (and consuming) one-third more food than you would using traditional 12-inch plates. Divide your 7-inch plate into sections -- fill half of it with salad and vegetables, one quarter with meat, and the final quarter with starch for a balanced, satisfying meal. 

4. Be wary of your alcohol intake. Cocktails with sugar-based mixers tend to have a high calorie count, oftentimes equal to the calorie count of a whole meal. Opt for diet or calorie-free mixers when creating a mixed drink. Fill your glass on a tabletop rather than in your hand – you’ll pour less, cutting your calorie intake. Wines and champagne are good low-calorie choices, particularly if you opt to use a smaller white wine glass instead of larger red wine goblets.

5. Circulate and socialize. Move away from the food table and bar to be among family and friends. Enjoy your surroundings so you’re not tempted to hover and over-indulge. If you don’t see it, you won’t be constantly reminded of it -- and you’ll eat and drink less. Carry a glass of water at all times to your keep hands busy, stay hydrated, and curb hunger. 

6. Enjoy seven fresh fruit and vegetable servings daily. Fresh fruits and veggies are loaded with the best ratio of vitamins and minerals per calorie count, making them ideal components of daily nutrition. The fiber is an added bonus, as it helps keep you satiated and avoid binge-eating through your holiday. Pack your refrigerator with bags of cut-up vegetables and whole or cut-up fruits. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll eat your fruits and vegetables before you snack on any cookies or other holiday treats. 

7. Learn to say “no, thank you,” gracefully. The holidays bring with them well-meaning friends and relatives who constantly try to heap more food or drink upon us. Stand your ground and politely decline. Practice doing so at home in front of a mirror if you know these situations make you feel uncomfortable. If your repeated declinations don’t put an end to food pushing, tell your family member or friend that you’ll take some leftovers when leaving.

8. Eliminate temptations. Have an abundance of boxed chocolates from your boss or clients? Receive a surprise care package of 20 dozen cookies from Grandma in the mail? Rather than overindulge your sweet tooth, re-gift them to others you know would enjoy them (local firefighters, police, school teachers, or a favorite babysitter, as soon as possible to avoid temptation.

9. Limit indulgences. Allow yourself one, properly-portioned treat a day through the holidays. If you just have to have something, give in to enjoying a small serving of up to three items without remorse – or second helpings – and make trade-offs to accommodate those treats of choice. If you see multiple items you wish to enjoy, compromise with a bite-sized serving of each. Total denial sets the stage for destructive binge-eating behavior. 

10. Amp up your fitness schedule. Regular physical aerobic activity is a great way to maintain your weight and reduce holiday stress. Devote 15 to 20 minutes to walking daily during the holidays or increase the intensity of your current fitness routine. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes; if you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week. If you haven’t exercised in six months, talk to your physician about a personalized fitness regimen before starting.

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