Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain: Tips for Managing Holiday Eating
Are you one of those people who seems to gain a few pounds every holiday season? You are not alone. It’s not due to holiday eating, though. People tend to slow down during the cold weather, plus there is the added stress of getting ready for Father Christmas and the emotional impact of the season. A little extra roast turkey or goose, a few more roasted potatoes on the plate, all followed by a big helping of Christmas pudding flaming with brandy – it does add up, especially if you are less active.
The solution is not to give up every holiday treat, so go ahead and enjoy your Christmas pudding. You can eat well this holiday season without packing on the pounds if you plan ahead and use some common sense.
Use Portion Control
The trick to eating everything you want on Christmas day is managing your portion sizes. Instead of filling your plate with one or two food items and then going back for more of everything else, focus on just one small serving of whatever you want — but with no refills. If you take a couple tablespoons of most dishes, and maybe less of the high-fat items rich with cheese and cream, you still get a taste of everything, but with fewer calories.
Eat Your Veggies
Brussels sprouts and parsnips are popular for Christmas dinner, so eat them first. If your hosts serve salad before dinner like the Americans do, fill up on it. If they serve it later, then save some room. When your holiday season includes heading out to a party or a feast, eat some vegetables at home before you leave. This will keep you from arriving hungry and overindulging.
Drink Plenty of Water
This not only helps reduce the effect of that lovely wine, but it fills your stomach, so you naturally eat less. Drink a glass of water before you leave the house or an hour before dinner, then another right before the meal.
You don’t have to eat everything at once, either. Consider having a small plate of food or one-half portion of pudding and then enjoying something else every 30 minutes or so. Putting a timer on it will help you pace yourself so you make fewer trips to the dessert table.
Be Sensible When Partying
A party is an opportunity to enjoy time with friends and family. Don’t make it about eating and drinking. Enjoy the conversation instead of spending all your time loading up your plate or filling your glass. If you do eat the little appetisers, keep the toothpicks in your hand as a reminder of how many you’ve already had while you mingle. Make every other drink sparkling water to reduce your alcohol intake as well.
Don’t use your holiday schedule or the damp cold as an excuse to avoid exercising. The combination of healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and a few dietary supplements before the big day will result in your food choices having less of an impact. For example, if you are bothered by the damp weather, take a glucosamine supplement daily to increase your flexibility and reduce chronic pain.
Create a plan for exercise and stick to it. The Department of Health recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and preferably something every day. An example of moderate exercise is a brisk walk or a bike ride.
After you eat, take the family out for a stroll to enjoy the sites, too. This helps everyone walk off some of those extra calories.
There is no rule in the holiday playbook that says you must gain weight. In fact, most people probably gain less than they think. A lot of what you are feeling is bloat from overeating and not getting enough exercise. By fighting off the stress that comes with the season and managing your food intake, you can avoid those extra pounds this year.
Baar, Karen. Holiday Weight Loss Tips, Good Housekeeping, December 2011.
Rabin, Susan G., MA. 10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain, WebMD.
Yanovski, JA et al. A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain. New England Journal of Medicine, March 2000.
Writer Bio: Darla F. is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara