And with that last plate of stuffing, the season officially began again.
For those of us trying to stick to a diet or weight-loss plan, the holidays can be a stressful time. Our excitement about the season can be tempered by the fear that we won’t be able to get through it—and all the delicious foods it has to offer—without the dreaded holiday weight gain.
Our fears don’t have to ruin the most wonderful time of the year, however. Not only is inevitable holiday weight gain part myth, but there are also some things we can do to maintain our weight while still enjoying our annual winter work parties and festive family get-togethers.
Many of us assume that if we partake in, say, the typical family Thanksgiving feast or work Christmas party, we can expect to easily gain five (or more) pounds. But that’s simply not true. As the fine folks at Lifehacker.com point out , the number is closer to one pound—and even that pound is primarily due to water retention caused by carbohydrates and salt. We also face a seasonal fluctuation in body mass during the winter months that has absolutely nothing to do with how much we eat or don’t eat.
No, the problem has more to do with the number of events we attend, what we do when we attend them, and how dedicated we are to our diet and exercise plan before and after these events. Here are some tips that will help keep your holiday weight-loss fears from outweighing your holiday cheer:
- Maintain your normal eating habits on the day of the party or get-together. Don’t skip meals with the goal of making up for lost calories at the event. If you’re starving when you arrive, chances are you’ll want to eat everything in sight.
- Take a look around. Don’t immediately head for the table or buffet when you first arrive. Say hello to some folks. Grab a water and sit down and relax. When it’s time to eat, pause to consider all the offerings and select the healthiest ones, or the special ones you can’t get year-round.
- Make good choices. Skip the appetizers. If you absolutely can’t resist, opt for fruits, veggies, or a handful of nuts instead. When it’s time to move on to the main course, choose foods that are rich in protein over foods that are high in carbs and fat. Go easy on the cheese, cream sauce, gravy, and butter—especially if you’re wanting some dessert. Then, when you filled your plate, go sit down and eat as far away from the spread as possible. Or, keep some of the filling, lower calorie snacks from WonderSlim handy.
- Drink responsibly. If you are going to drink alcohol, pace yourself. In addition to the obvious risks of drinking too much, keep in mind that alcohol is high in calories. Limit your alcohol intake, and have a glass of water in between drinks. You can also try to keep a glass of water in your hand all evening. First, it’s the healthiest beverage choice. Second, you’ll have one less hand to grab food.
- Holiday parties don’t have to be all about food. The more fun the crowd, the more there will be to do. Play a game. Do some karaoke. Bust out some dance moves. Talk and laugh. Take some pictures to remember the occasion. You should eat because you’re hungry, not because you’re bored, and if you’re doing something fun, chances are you won’t be bored.
Forgive yourself. We’re all human. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, a holiday buffet can be just too tempting. If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up about it. Dust yourself off, get some exercise tomorrow, and aim to get back on track in avoiding holiday weight gain. Isn’t that what New Year’s resolutions are for?
How do you stick to your weight-loss plan during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!