The holidays are here, and that means your social calendar is about to get even busier. Whether attending parties and family gatherings or hosting your events, it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating a little too much—and then a little more—as the season progresses.
Holiday weight gain is real, and it’s tough to avoid. Even if you are careful about what you eat and how much you drink during the holidays, you may find yourself eating more than usual in the excitement of the season.
But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to avoid holiday weight gain—you have to know what they are. So we’ve put together a list of seven tips that will help keep your holiday weight gain at bay.
1. Make sure not to skip meals!
Skipping breakfast and lunch to make room for a big dinner might seem like a good way to eat more, but it’s not good for your body.
Eating regularly throughout the day will reduce your hunger and help you to avoid overeating. When you skip meals or only eat small portions, you’re more likely to overeat later on in the day than if you’d had a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner that included protein, fiber and healthy fats.
2. Drink lots of water
Water is a great way to hydrate yourself without overloading you with calories because it has zero calories, carbs, or fats. When dehydrating, our body thinks it needs more energy—one way it gets that energy is from our fat stores. So if we don’t drink enough water, we are more likely to store more fat than usual, leading to weight gain over time.
If you want to add some zest to your water, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice to it instead of soda. If that still doesn’t do it, try adding some strawberries or cucumber slices to your water pitcher for an added flavor boost.
3. Indulge in small portions of delicious foods
Eat mindfully. Take time with your meals so you can enjoy them without feeling rushed or guilty about what you’re eating. If you are at a party and don’t want to be rude by leaving early, try taking small bites of each food before going back for seconds (or thirds). This will help slow down your eating so that you do not overeat later.
4. Keep healthy snacks on hand
Keep healthy snacks on your desk or kitchen to avoid reaching for something unhealthy. It can be tempting to buy junk food at the store once you start thinking about holiday eating, but if you already have healthy snacks on hand, it will be much harder to resist. Try keeping nuts or dried fruit around so that when someone offers you some cookie dough or brownie batter, you can say no thanks and grab a handful of almonds instead.
Here are some other healthy snack ideas:
- Fruit: Bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, etc.
- Vegetables: Celery sticks with peanut butter, carrots with hummus dip
5. Don’t overdo it on sweets or alcohol
If you love baking cookies, try swapping out sugar for stevia or honey; if you love chocolate cake, use dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips. The point is that these small changes will add up over time and help keep your waistline healthy.
Alcoholic drinks are also full of calories, so try to limit yourself to one drink per meal or snack. Or even better, try drinking sparkling water instead. It will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and limits those pesky cravings for sugary drinks later on in the evening.
Another great tip is to split dessert with someone else at the table or take half home with you. This way, everyone gets a bit of something sweet without overdoing it on just one person’s portion size.
6. Exercise regularly throughout the day (even if it’s just walking around)
It is equally important to diet and exercise when it comes to losing or maintaining weight. Exercise will help boost your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. It will also help improve your mood and help reduce stress, which can lead to less emotional eating.
If you have time for a workout, even something as simple as a brisk walk can help keep your metabolism up and keep you feeling good enough to enjoy all the festivities around you. For example, if you know that you’ll be eating dinner with family and friends later in the day, try to get up and walk around before everyone else gets there.
But remember, you also should not exercise too much—it is essential to give yourself downtime during this busy time of year so that you don’t burn out completely!
7. Be kind to yourself
First, remember that gaining a few pounds over the holidays is normal and temporary. It won’t take long before you get back in your jeans and feel great about yourself again.
Second, focus on the positives of the season:
- Spending time with friends and family
- Enjoying delicious treats
- Taking a break from your schedule to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation
The more relaxed you are during this busy time of year, the easier it will be to avoid gaining weight from all those delicious holiday feasts.