The holiday season: the time of thankfulness, good cheer, and happy tidings.
And lots and lots of food.
Way too much food, if we’re bring brutally honest. (And we are being honest, because there’s no time for lying when it comes to weight gain!)
Weight gain during the holiday season is extremely common because of the excessive amount of extra sweets, treats, and big meals we Americans consume during those festive months. On average, an adult will gain the most pounds between the months of November and January.
I don’t know about you, but I know I historically gain the most during the holidays. I break out the turkey pants in October 😬😬😬
The last two years, I’ve done a really good job with keeping my weight consistent. (Nope, I didn’t lose weight. But I didn’t gain it either and that’s a huge win for me!)
Avoid the weight gain this holiday season with these actionable tips. Even if you only do a few of them, it gives you a greater chance of doing better this year than you’ve done before.
We are all about the “small changes make a big impact” motto. So let’s dive into these little things that will make a huge difference in your life!
1. Stay Active
Ok, don’t hate me. I’m being serious.
It’s easy to become more sedentary during the holiday season–the weather is colder, the days are busier, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of it.
However, because of the tendency to overeat during the holiday season, it’s important to stay active, even if it’s just going for a walk.
Some areas even do Thanksgiving- or Christmas-themed 5K races, which are another good way to stay active.
So even if those cute fluffy pajamas and hallmark movies are calling your name, make it a priority to go for a Christmas Light stroll. (Or day I say, go to the mall!)
2. Less room, means less food
A good trick for keeping your portion sizes smaller during the holiday season is to literally use smaller plates.
Psychologically, smaller plates help you eat less because you’ll feel like you’ve eaten more when you fill the plate up, even though in reality, you’re eating less. If I had to pick a tip that everyone everywhere could do–it would be this tip.
3. You don’t need to go back
Of course, the small plate method doesn’t really do you much good if you go back for seconds and thirds, which is why, if you want to avoid weight gain during the holidays, you should do your best to avoid seconds when eating holiday meals.
Just make it a rule to fill your plate with everything you want to eat the first time, that way, you won’t be as tempted to overeat.
Small plate + everything you’re going to eat = less likelihood you’ll eat 3000 calories in one sitting.
4. Don’t get the trenta
One of the biggest culprits for weight gain during the holidays is the beverages–from egg nog to hot cocoa to sugary alcoholic beverages, you can easily drink your calories into oblivion.
In order to counteract this, set a limit on how many and what size. I know I know, easier said than done. (Have you seen the size of some of these reusable cups! they’re huge!) But seriously, do yourself a solid and say no to hot chocolate and three cups of coffee in one day.
5. Talk while you eat, and take your time eating
Chewing slower not only helps you digest your food better, it also prevents you from gaining weight because when you chew and swallow your food slowly, your body’s natural satiety signals kick in, alerting you that you are full.
6. Catch those sweet winter time Zzzz’s
Getting enough sleep is important for avoiding weight loss because when you’re sleep deprived, which is not uncommon during the busy holiday season, you are more likely to feel hungry due to increased hunger hormone levels and/or skip your exercise routine due to fatigue.
That might be why Santa has such a cute rounded belly- he’s staying up late getting everything done and eating way too many cookies.
7. Holiday Stress is gonna kill ya
The holidays are known for being a stressful time. Aside from making sure you get enough sleep, finding other ways to reduce your stress levels and much as possible will prevent you from stress-eating, which can cause weight gain.
Take the time to breathe, take a hot bath, do some yoga, or whatever else helps you feel more relaxed.
Personally, I like to unplug, watch a few Hallmark movies, and get some alone time.
8. Skip the Egg nog and other festive drinks with alcohol or foam
Sure, egg nog and that gingerbread martini are delicious- but they can also pack on the pounds with their deceptive deliciousness.
Like, I’m pretty sure I gain weight just looking on a PSL. Especially if you get it with foam.
Get the small one, or just skip it all together. Iced coffee still tastes good year round and you know it’s not hiding little elfs that sew your clothes tighter each night.
9. Make a Pact With Someone
It’s easier to stick to your dietary commitments if you’re not going at it alone–so ask a family member, friend, or even coworker if they’ll make a pact with you to avoid gaining weight during the holidays.
That way, you can hold each other accountable and increase your motivation to stick to your plan. It’s always better with a friend.
Just pick someone that gets it–never guilt trip someone into being your accountability partner. They will suck at it. #askmehowIknow
10. Make Things From Scratch
Boxed mixed and other processed food products are abundant during the holiday season, but they often have tons of additives and are loaded with calories.
In order to control what goes into your food, try making as many things from scratch as much as you can stand.
Not only can you modify the recipe and sub certain ingredients for healthier ones, but it might discourage you from 5 batches of Christmas cookies (and then you only make one instead).
11. Choose Healthier Recipes to Make
Nowadays, there are a host of healthy holiday recipes and ingredient substitutions to choose from that taste delicious.
When deciding what dishes you’re going to bring to the family dinner, instead of going with the same recipe, try researching healthier versions or substitutions to make instead.
You may be surprised with what you find. No Paula Dean, you DON’T need that much butter.
12. You don’t want the heat, so stay out of the kitchen
If you’re going to be attending a lot of parties and family gatherings where there will be lots of dishes and appetizers, make an effort to stay out of the kitchen.
We are programmed to associate food with the kitchen–literally. Food belongs in the kitchen and the dining room.
just stay clear of the areas so you don’t feel like snacking and taste testing everything.
13. Eat a Filling Snack Before Parties
Another helpful tip to avoid overeating at parties is to never arrive hungry–obviously, you’ll be more likely to overindulge in holiday foods if you show up on an empty stomach.
Good lord knows I can put down some food when I haven’t eaten all day!
At least an hour before you leave, eat a healthy snack or a light meal. Grab some proteins and healthy fats. Your body will thank you with a good energy level and mood!
14. Snack on Fresh Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts
Most parties will have at least one fruit or veggie tray, and mixed nuts are a popular fare around the holidays.
In order to avoid eating too many high-sugar, high-fat foods, gravitate towards the healthier party trays to help you feel full.
15. Get Enough Protein and Fiber
During the holiday season, there’s an abundance of sugary, starchy, fatty foods that can throw your balanced diet out of whack with empty calories.
To keep yourself on track and feeling full without overindulging, make sure you’re getting enough protein and fiber during the holidays, too.
Buy lean meats like chicken (and of course there will be turkey!) and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.
16. Don’t Alter the Rest of Your Routine
The holidays can be hectic time that throws everyone out of their normal routine with events and family functions, but as much as you can keep the rest of your health routine the same, do it.
keep making the same healthy meals on the off days, stick to your exercise regimen as much as possible, and try to go to sleep at the same time.
This will help keep your body regulated and prevent weight gain.
17. Freeze Leftovers
Rather than eat mashed potatoes and gravy for a week, (🙋♀️🙋♀️🙋♀️) try freezing dishes after a holiday feast to allow your body time to process the rich meals and prevent you from overindulging on them.
Save them for another day when you can balance the fat and starch out with protein, fiber, and veggies.
Plus, you get to keep enjoying your holiday favorites after the season has passed.
18. Pace Yourself
Whether you’re at a party or enjoying your holiday feast, be sure to pace yourself–don’t just gobble up everything you see like it’s the last meal you’ll ever have.
If it’s a serve-yourself kind of party, maybe only make yourself a plate every hour, and if it’s a meal, chew slowly and wait at least twenty minutes before you decide to indulge in seconds–this gives your body time to decide if it’s full.
19. Have a Cut-Off Time
Another helpful method for avoiding weight gain is to set a cut-off time at which you stop eating.
This is especially helpful at nighttime events, since the tendency is to keep eating and drinking late into the night, which contributes to weight gain.
Maybe you decide that at 8 pm, you’re done eating for the night–you can even ask someone to hold you to it so you don’t cave in.
Everyone associates food and indulgence with the holidays, and granted it is fun to break bread with your family and friends, you shouldn’t forget that it’s also about spending time with them, too.
Next time you go to a holiday gathering, try focusing more on socializing than on eating.
It will keep you distracted and you’ll get to catch up with your loved ones. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
21. Chew Gum
Chewing gum tricks the body into thinking it’s eating, which can help satisfy your cravings in between meals.
During the holiday season, try chewing gum while cooking to prevent excessive taste testing or at a party to reinforce your cut-off time. As an added bonus, your breath will smell nice.
22. Be a fish
Studies show that drinking a glass of water about half and hour before each meal not only aids in digestion, but also prevents weight gain by making you feel fuller on less food.
This is especially helpful during the holiday season, when the food is filling anyway. It’s also a great way to keep yourself from drinking too many calories.