Top Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
It’s December—truly the heart of holiday season. Hopefully, you made it through Thanksgiving and any early gatherings without doing too much to expand your waistline, and if so, kudos to you. But brace yourself, because another round is hitting. Your days will be filled with baked goods, boxes of chocolates, and candy canes around the office, while your nights will consist of meeting friends for drinks and dinner, parties with fattening finger foods, and several more holiday meals. It’s almost astounding that everyone doesn’t gain 20 pounds this time of year! And for those who do gain, a recent study conducted by a team of researchers from Finland, France, and the United States found that it can take more than five months to shed that excess holiday weight.1
But don’t fear, we’ve got some suggestions for how you can make it through to New Year’s, enjoying yourself thoroughly, and still be able to step on the scale without wincing in January. Read on for some easy ways to navigate the holidays and still have clothes that fit.
Make Smart Food Choices
You may be eating out several times a week now between dinner plans and parties, but that doesn’t have to mean a diet disaster. Many people feel it might be better to bank their calories by barely eating all day, reasoning that this will balance out the indulgent meals and help prevent going too far over the daily limit. But that’s never a good idea, because by the time dinner rolls around, you’re starving and likely have no willpower left to avoid anything from the greasiest hors d’oeuvres to the most decadent deserts.
Instead, you’re better off eating nutritiously throughout the day and making sure you’re not terribly hungry when you go out. This way, you can pass up some of the high-calorie fare, eat whatever is relatively healthy, and possibly even choose one or two junky dishes to indulge in a little. And remember, even if you totally blow it one night, that’s no excuse to give up for the rest of the week (or season, for that matter). One evening of eating high-fat, high-calorie fare won’t have too much of an effect, but weeks of eating that way certainly will. Keep the rest of your meals as healthy as possible.
Go Easy on the Alcohol
Don’t let the celebrations of the holidays result in the consumption of endless rounds of drinks. It might be nice to enjoy a beer while out with friends, a glass of eggnog at a Christmas party, or a champagne toast for New Year’s; just make sure not to overdo it. Alcohol offers lots of empty calories, with a beer adding about 150 calories, wine at about 125 calories, and eggnog coming in at a whopping 340 calories. It all adds up quickly if you’re having two or three a night, so try to remain a teetotaler at least some of the time.
Stick to Your Exercise Routine
It’s easy to say you’re too busy to possibly find time to work out every day during the holiday season, but you need to exercise now more than ever. Not only will it combat any of the extra calories that you just can’t resist, but it will increase your energy to help you comfortably juggle work, shopping, and all the socializing you may be doing. Wake up a half hour earlier than usual, put your lunch hour to better use, or go straight to the gym after work. Think of exercise as your “me time” this season, and don’t let a day go by without it.
Focus on the Positives of the Season
Don’t get caught up in the stress of visiting relatives, a hectic schedule, and the growing lists of expensive gifts to buy. You’ll end up miserable and possibly look to drown your sorrows in a pint of ice cream. Instead, shift your focus to the true meaning of the holidays and think about how great it is to be able to spend time with loved ones and embrace your spiritual side. If you find you’re still getting anxious, go for a long walk to unwind or meditate to find your inner peace.
Before you know it, January will arrive, and the holidays will be over. At that point, if you have gained a few pounds or just aren’t feeling your best from all the excesses of the season, take heart. Jon Barron’s liver/blood detox involves fasting and ridding your body of lots of toxins, with weight loss as a nice side effect. It will have you feeling better and back on track in no time. There’s a reason Jon and Kristen do a liver cleanse every January like clockwork.
- 1. Helander, Elina E.; et al. "Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries." New England Journal of Medicine. 22 September 2016. Accessed 7 December 2016. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012.