The holiday season is upon us once again, and while it’s usually the worst time of year to try to lose weight, it’s definitely possible to avoid gaining weight. It’s about being mindful of what you eat, how you eat, and how you treat your body.
Keeping your body healthy overall is really the focus here, but we’ve got a few tips to help you get through the season of food, drink, and sweets!
- Minimize cell phones and big screen television time as much as possible, but most importantly during meal time. Focus your energy on meaningful conversations and connections available at the dinner table instead. It helps to slow down the pace of eating, which increases the chances that you’ll be making mindful decisions about what you’re putting in your mouth. And hey, everyone needs a break from screen time, enjoy the ones you’re with!
- You still need to move your body. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the running around, wrapping, cleaning, and visiting that you forget to exercise. The best part is that when you’re visiting, you have built-in workout partners! So after dinner, get everyone going on a movement-focused activity like a group walk or a friendly game of football or basketball instead of plopping down on the sofa to watch it on television.
Sedentary traditions combined with overeating traditions is a guaranteed few pounds packed on. So move. Get your mind off the food, help aid digestion, and lower blood sugar by spending 30-60 minutes exercising together. It’ll even help Grandpa!
- Keeping tabs on yourself by tracking your intake is a great method for better weight management all together. Use a food journal or mobile app to track everything you eat and drink each day (get started now if this isn’t a current habit), and when the holidays arrive, you’ll be able to mentally gauge how to avoid overloading your plate. Try eating like Europeans do, where it’s more grazing upon smaller plates of healthier foods throughout the day, rather than sitting down for one huge feast. Those who eat larger portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t.
- The busy-ness of the holidays often leaves you reaching for a quick snack even though you know you’re going to be faced with a larger meal option later. However, eating between meals is a surefire recipe for packing on extra weight, so before you reach for that granola bar or cookie, try drinking a cold glass of water. Hunger is often mistake for what’s really your body’s dehydration, so aim to hydrate calorie-free first. If you’re still in need of a snack, aim for fruit, whole grains, or cut up veggies. It’s important to try to be mindful of this, though. If you find yourself chomping down just because there’s food around, instead of because you’re hungry, it’s important to recognize that and find something else to do.
- The last thing people make a priority when life gets busy is sleep, but it’s actually one of the most important things to give yourself, especially during the holidays. Sleep affects your weight thanks to ghrelin, which is your body’s “eat more hormone.” So make sure you relax and sleep well. People who get less than 7 hours a night tend to consume more calories throughout the day, thanks to the rise in ghrelin.
- Not just during the holidays, but you should always aim to treat fruits and vegetables as the main dish, with meats and proteins your second, and finally minimal to no refined carbs. Try keeping a bowl of fresh fruit options on the counter to make snacks a no-brainer!
- Everyone who drinks alcohol tends to drink more of it during the holidays, right? So try to remember that liquid calories (including the non-alcoholic kind) add up quickly, and consuming too much wine or spirits can lessen impulses and lead to overeating or making less healthy choices.
- Speaking of non-alcoholic beverages, watch your sugar intake all around. Avoiding soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, and the like can save literally hundreds of calories a day or more! Add to that, the sugary baked goods and confections that come with the holiday season, and you’re talking the possibility of enough sugar alone to pack on a few. Put the cinnamon roll down, and reach for a banana or some sweet sugar snap peas and hummus instead.
- Because intermittent fasting does all kinds of great things for our bodies such as boosting metabolism, helping us sleep longer, minimizing the effects of not-so-healthy foods, and can even help you gain muscle — it’s a great way to get through the holidays with little to no weight gain.
- If you’re new to IF, take it slow and steady but start now before the holidays arrive. Begin by reducing your eating/drinking intake window to one 8 hour period of time, such as noon to 8pm. This gives your body 16 hours to digest everything you ate and begin tackling your body’s energy reserves (stored fat) to keep you going. To learn more about intermittent fasting, and how it can help you be healthier and more comfortable in your body, check out what the National Institute of Health has to say regarding all the benefits!
The bottom line is this: The holidays don’t have to be a recipe for weight gain and unhealthy behavior, and you don’t have to spend the first month of a new year full of regret and tight pants! You’ve got this!