The holiday season is here! There are many things to look forward to this holiday season, such as getting the latest smart phone or the new tech gadget for Christmas. Others are looking forward to spending time with loved ones, or attending Christmas parties and eating all the good food.
But the one thing we all wish to avoid is the dreaded holiday weight gain. It is estimated that up to 75% of all the weight a person gains each year is during the holidays. While avoiding weight gain during the holidays may be difficult, it’s not impossible.
Here are some simple, yet easy to follow tips on keeping the extra pounds away:
Drink More Water
Many times, a person thinks they’re hungry, when in reality, they’re just thirsty. One part of the brain interprets both hunger and thirst signals so sometimes it mixes them up. This leads us to eating a lot more calories than we should, especially if we’re looking to lose weight.
Health experts say that we should drink about 2 liters or half a gallon of water every day. By drinking more water, we can decrease the amount of food we eat, thus lowering our caloric intake.
You can check if you’re hungry or thirsty by taking a drink and waiting 15 minutes to see if you feel better or not. If you’re satisfied, then you weren’t hungry at all.
To avoid eating when you aren’t really hungry, take a water bottle with you wherever you go!
Drink a glass or two of water within 30 minutes of eating. This can help fill you up, prompting you to eat less.
Watch the Alcohol
Alcohol is bad for your health but it is also bad for your weight gain. Beer, wine, cocktails, etc. all contain empty calories which means that there are no nutrients. Those calories can add up over time.
Another issue is that your body will burn alcohol first and then the food, which means that the food will most likely be stored as fat. Drinking alcohol also leads to an increase in appetite and you probably won’t choose to eat something healthy when you are drunk.
That glass (or two) at the holiday party is a quick and subtle way to pack on the pounds. You should drink in moderation.
Drink alcoholic beverages slowly, and try to stick to lower calorie varieties such as lemon, lime and soda. Avoid any alcoholic drinks and cocktails with soda/soft drinks.
Choose Party Foods Wisely
Holiday parties are quite festive, with many delicious foods and tasty treats to choose from. However, quite a few of our favourite holiday meals and treats, aren’t really healthy.
Some of the holiday favourites that have made the naughty diet list are:
- Mashed potatoes – contain a lot of milk, butter and salt
- Pecan pie – made with corn syrup, butter and sugar
- Eggnog – a lot of alcohol, heavy cream, eggs and sugar
- Pigs-in-a-blanket – lots of sodium, not enough nutrition
- Stuffing – usually made with butter and high-fat meats
With such an abundance of food, many of us will relax and eat a little more than we normally would. One way you can avoid overindulging is by staying occupied and talking to people.
Be aware once you’re satisfied and excuse yourself from the dinner table to avoid further temptation.
If it’s a buffet, use smaller plates, opt for smaller portions and eat slowly. (Don’t forget to drink water beforehand.)
Avoid excessive sitting during the holiday season. Lack of movement means less calories burned, which could contribute to weight gain. In addition to traditional workouts, other ways to stay active can include going for a walk with your friends/family, doing jumping jacks or planks during television commercials, cleaning (yes it burns lots of calories!) or just walking around the shopping centre.
Another way to stay active is by playing games with your family such as tag or hide-and-seek. You can play them with your younger relatives and even with your older ones. The holiday season is the time for everyone to relax and have some fun!
If you live somewhere where it snows, then you know how exhausted you can get after a day outside in the snow, building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels. Even shoveling the snow from the driveway will give you a good workout.
There are plenty of opportunities for exercise while still having fun and enjoying your time while on holiday!
Exercise in the morning, before breakfast. This will prompt the body to tap into fat stores for energy and can prompt fat burning and weight loss.
Watch Your Mood
For some, the holidays can be depressing or even stressful. To help boost their mood or relieve tension, many will turn to food. The holidays are loaded with delicious comfort foods that are high in calories and not good for us, as I’ve mentioned above. These foods should be eaten in moderation or skipped altogether.
However, most of the time food doesn’t comfort your emotions. It actually makes you feel worse than before you ate. You’ll also feel guilty for overeating.
Instead of eating, you should try to identify the emotion first:
- If you’re depressed or lonely, try to spend time with your family or friends, someone who makes you feel better. Even spending a time with a loved pet will brighten your day
- If you’re anxious, try exercising or doing activities with your family. If it’s too cold to spend time outside, there are now a variety of games which make you move. Even playing music and having a mini dance party will shake off the excess of that nervous energy.
- If you’re exhausted, spend some quiet time either on your own in a warm bath, or with your loved ones, reading or watching a TV show.
- If you’re bored, do anything that will keep you away from the kitchen and the abundance of holiday food. You can go outside for a walk, go shopping, play board games and video games, anything that you find interesting which will distract you.
Don’t keep your comfort foods in the house. Resist the urge to buy them. If they aren’t in the house, you can’t eat them.
Get Your Rest
A lack of sleep has been linked to many health issues, but research has shown that sleep deprivation also increases risk of weight gain. Those who consistently don’t get enough hours of sleep risk slowing down their metabolism.
If you stay awake late at night you’ll also eat at night just to keep yourself awake by having something to do.
Scientists recommend that you get at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night, if that’s possible. This number can also vary depending on your age.
Getting adequate rest allows the body to repair itself, making it essential to our overall health. You need to have a regular sleep pattern and it’s best to achieve this with a set bedtime and wake-up time.
Many people have trouble sleeping at night. Resist the urge to check your cellphone while lying in bed. The illumination from the screen may wake you up instead of allowing you to wind down and drift off to sleep.
Chamomile tea is a natural relaxant that has been used for thousands of years to help people sleep. Another option is to take a twenty-minute cat nap during the day to rejuvenate.
The holiday season is the time to eat, drink, and be merry. For too many of us, that also means gaining unwanted weight. Give these tips a try and your body just might thank you if you follow them to avoid holiday weight gain.
However, if you don’t manage to avoid weight gain, don’t give up! As mentioned, holiday’s are a difficult time to keep your weight, but once they pass, you can check out my program which will help you get back on track!