It is widely understood that the holiday season usually equates with weight gain.
Depending upon which news story you look at, the estimates of how much the average person gains varies greatly. Even though some individuals report gaining 5 to 10 pounds over the holiday season, research done on large groups of people does not show this to be a widespread occurrence.
The good news: research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the average American gains just one pound. So, you may ask yourself, what’s the big deal in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it’s “only” a pound?
The bad news: according to the same research, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
The worse news: for people who are already overweight, their average weight gain is closer to 5 pounds and these folks don’t lose their extra holiday weight either.
Since it is much easier to avoid gaining holiday weight than it is to lose it afterwards, use these 9 tips to avoid holiday weight gain.
1. Have A Plan
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Be aware of what holiday pitfalls you are likely to face and make a plan on how to handle them. It can be as simple as writing out something like:
During the _______________ (name of event goes here), my biggest challenge will be _______________________, and my goal is to __________________. I plan to make this happen by _______________, __________________, and _________________.
Write out as many of these as you need and put them where you will see them. Make sure to read them regularly and you’ll be surprised at how much easier you will find it to make healthy choices for yourself during the holidays.
2. Just Keep Moving
Physical exercise is a fantastic strategy to help you increase self-control in order to be less tempted by any cravings you experience. Exercise helps increase blood flow and dopamine in your brain which improves impulse control, helps reduce stress, and improves your mood. In addition, exercise boosts serotonin in your brain to help you get unstuck when you can’t stop thinking about Grandma Marion’s pecan pie.
3. Stay Hydrated
Often we mistake dehydration for hunger. Drinking water throughout the day will help to alleviate this potential signal cross. Be sure to drink water, seltzer, or herbal tea before you eat – it will take up space in your stomach, is calorie-free, and is good for your health!
4. Beware Of Booze
Alcohol can cause a triple whammy: not only are alcoholic drinks high in calories and bad for the health of your brain, drinking alcohol will also decrease your resistance to temptations. You need all your willpower to resist the cheese dips and yummy-looking desserts, so staying sober is a good strategy.
5. Seek Supplemental Support
Multiple research studies have found that increasing omega-3 intake can decrease cravings for things like nicotine, alcohol, and sugar. Additionally, BrainMD Health’s Craving Control contains six active ingredients that work synergistically to help calm the craving centers in the brain, balance blood sugar and insulin levels and promote a positive mood with clinically studied, all-natural ingredients. In addition, it can diminish the frequency and intensity of your cravings, helping you to more effectively achieve better control over your behavior.
6. Don’t Go Hungry
Make sure you eat healthy, low carb and high protein food consistently and especially before attending a holiday gathering. The delicious food is tempting enough as it is, but being hungry will make saying no all the more difficult. Try having an OMNI Protein shake before you leave for the gathering. It creates a feeling of satiety with fiber-rich protein and it will help anyone with a sweet tooth resist that holiday fudge! (Check out our recipe section for shake ideas and more.)
7. Divert Your Attention
Try to remember that the holiday season is about more than just food. Make socializing, rather than food, the focus of the event. Next time you go to a holiday party, make it your goal to have a conversation with each person and take time to admire the decorations. If there is entertainment, be sure to enjoy it.
8. Just Say No
Practice saying “no, thank you.” Remember to be firm, but kind. It’s okay to turn down invitations or tell a food-pushing host you don’t want seconds. “Oh, that looks really delicious, but I’m too full right now, but thanks for asking!”
9. Use Smaller Plates
Though it is an optical illusion, the same amount of food looks larger on a smaller plate than it does on a larger plate. In fact, research from Cornell University shows switching from a 12-inch to a 10-inch plate can help you eat 20-25% fewer calories.