It probably comes as no surprise that the holidays are the most common time for Americans to gain weight. In fact, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed the average American gains 1.3 pounds during the holiday season.
Although this may not seem like a lot, over time it can affect your waistline – and more importantly, your health. It’s an uphill battle to try to lose weight during the holiday season, but aiming to maintain your weight is an excellent goal.
Here are a few general tips to avoid holiday weight gain:
- Eat nine servings of vegetables and fruit every day – Instead of thinking about what you shouldn’t eat, put the focus on what you should eat. Vegetables and fruit provide a healthy mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber and micronutrients. All things you need to stay healthy throughout the holiday season.
- Indulge in a small treat daily – It’s easier to stick with a healthy eating plan when you have room for an indulgence here and there. Just remember – it’s all about portion control and keeping yourself accountable.
- Stay hydrated – Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day. Often when you think you’re hungry, it’s actually your body’s way of saying it’s thirsty. So if you feel the urge to snack, drink a glass of water instead – and then decide if you’re actually hungry.
- Find ways to destress that don’t involve food – To help relieve holiday stress and anxiety, take a walk outside, go to the gym, do a yoga class or simply focus on your breathing for five minutes.
Of course, for many of us the biggest challenge is not overindulging at a holiday party or gathering. These five strategies can help you stick with your healthy eating plan:
- Enjoy a small snack before the party – You’ll be more likely to overindulge if you show up hungry. Before going to a party, eat a small, protein-rich snack to help tide you over. A few suggestions include a slice of whole-wheat bread with peanut butter, carrot sticks with hummus, or two hard-boiled eggs.
- Bring a healthy option to potluck dinners and parties – Choosing to bring a healthy dish can help set the tone for how you’re going to eat at the gathering. Good options are items that include plenty of vegetables or fruit, such as a lighter vegetable casserole or a fruit-filled dessert.
- Focus on socializing instead of eating – The whole reason we go to parties is to meet new people and catch up with friends. Food is an attraction – but the reason you’re there is to celebrate friendships, new and old.
- Practice mindful eating – Most of us are not aware of how much we are eating while socializing at a party. Before grabbing food off the buffet table, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry. If not, skip the nibbles and save yourself a few calories.
- Limit alcoholic beverages – It’s important to remember that alcohol has calories. Some drinks contain hundreds of calories, making it easy to rack up a day’s worth or more at a single gathering.
For more tips and strategies to avoid holiday weight gain, contact your primary care provider. To find a primary care provider near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.