We have all heard of, and maybe even experienced holiday weight gain, but we don’t have to! Staying fit during the holidays is possible with a little planning and willpower.
During the holiday season, foods and beverages are plentiful and often times calorie dense. When we consume more calories than we expend, our bodies store those calories as fat. Now there are many factors that impact each person’s individual weight, in addition to diet, including genetics, metabolism, body composition, physical activity level, and even gut bacteria. Since each person is different, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ recommendation to prevent holiday weight gain. However, here are a handful of strategies, many of which work for most people:
- Fill up on fiber at meals and snacks! Choosing meals and snacks that are high in fiber will keep you feeling full and help you avoid over-indulging in all those holiday treats.
- Drink water between meals. Sometimes we confuse hunger for thirst! By making sure your body is well hydrated, you may be less likely to overeat.
- Eat slowly and take small portions. It takes 20 minutes for your body to realize you are full, so slowing down while you eat and nibbling on smaller portions can help prevent eating too much and feeling too full.
- Be conscious of liquid calories! Many holiday beverages can be high in calories, especially if they contain alcohol. Balance your beverages with your food choices. For example, if you choose to indulge in holiday beverages, pass on the holiday desserts.
- Park further away from stores. Whether shopping at Forest Hills for groceries or at other stores for holiday gifts, park further out so you can get extra steps. Another tip is to make a extra lap around the store for even more steps. When the weather is not the best outside, walking inside a store can be a great way to get a little physical activity. Even 10 minutes adds up over the course of the day!
- Stand instead of sit. If at a party or just at home, standing can be a good way to burn more calories compared to staying sedentary and sitting. If you are required to sit for extended periods, standing/walking for a few minutes every hour can have positive effects on health.
- Sign up for a holiday 5k! Committing to a training or workout plan is a great way to keep motivated and moving during the holiday season. Make a calendar and challenge yourself to stay on track. Be sure to reward yourself for meeting your goals!
- Get sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night will benefit your health in many ways including helping you have better control of your appetite and make healthier food choices. When we do not get adequate sleep, we are often hungrier and easily tempted by less nutritious foods.
Choosing two or three of these strategies may help you stay fit and healthy through the holiday season. If you notice a certain strategy is not working for you, no worries - try another! Armed with these recommendations, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!
"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."
STEPHANIE EDSON - REGIONAL WELLNESS SPECIALIST
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.