The holiday season is a time of family fun, holiday gatherings, music, gift giving, and…weight gain. Most of us will jump on the scale in the New Year and quickly vow that our first New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. So we join a gym and start eating salads and quickly slide into the post-holiday doldrums. But with a little planning and forethought, we can save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering in the New Year. Here are eight strategies to prevent weight gain this holiday season:
- Stay hydrated.
Whether you are traveling or attending a holiday party, hydration is key to prevent overindulging that leads to weight gain. We often misinterpret thirst for sweet cravings or hunger pains and reach for a sweet snack instead of a glass of water. So whether you’re at the airport or a friend’s house, reach for a glass of water before you grab that cookie.
- Eat a high protein snack before parties.
Holiday parties are the worst when it comes to sugar. And if you don’t fuel up beforehand, you will definitely be tempted to indulge. Try eating a high protein snack or small meal before attending a party to curb your appetite. Aim for 10-15 grams of protein in your snack.
- Moderate the alcohol.
Alcohol is a huge problem for holiday weight gain. Not only do a lot of holiday alcoholic beverages have high sugar content, but they can also loosen your inhibitions, which may lead to overindulging in food and sweets. So try to limit your alcohol intake and drink smart. Drink 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat a meal with veggies and proteins to moderate blood sugar before drinking.
- Use a small plate.
Another reason many of us gain weight during the holidays is eating large portions of foods at holiday gatherings. A quick fix is to use a smaller plate to limit your portion sizes.
- Have a game plan for dinner parties.
When you attend a dinner party, have a game plan for what you will eat. First, bring a dish that you know is healthy so you know that there will be at least one thing you can eat at the party. Next, scope out the selection of food at the party and decide beforehand what you will put on your plate. Try to limit the servings of carbs and be selective. For example, do you really want that cornbread of would you rather indulge in the mashed potatoes? It is okay to indulge, but just do it selectively and smartly.
- Eat your veggies first.
Whether you are at a cocktail party, a formal dinner, or just having a meal at home, focus on eating your veggies first. The fiber in the vegetables will fill you up so that you will indulge less in unhealthy foods.
- Keep up the physical activity.
It can be difficult to maintain your usual exercise schedule over the holidays but do the best you can. Try to get in as much movement as possible. Small things like parking far from the entrance or taking the stairs can help. But don’t stress too much about your exercise schedule. When it comes to weight, exercise is important but not as important as diet.
- Focus on stress management.
Have you ever noticed that all you gain all your holiday weight in your belly? Well, that would be the stress. When it comes to weight gain over the holidays, stress is a double-edged sword. Independent of your diet, stress can cause spikes in blood sugar that add to your belly fat. But stress can also drive you to drink more and eat more, also leading to spikes in blood sugar that result in weight gain. This is why stress management is one of the most important aspects of preventing holiday weight gain. To decrease your holiday stress, practice 10 minutes of deep belly breathing every day, do a guided visual relaxation exercise on YouTube once a week, or start a gratitude journal that you write in daily.
Dr. Carly Polland is a Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about teaching people how to transform their health to live a life full of strength, energy, and vitality. She combines modern science and ancient natural wisdom to help people overcome chronic disease and reclaim vibrant health. She specializes in autoimmune disease, digestive disorders, women’s health, and mental health. To learn about her private practice, visit www.bioadaptivemedicine.com.