During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, nibbling on chocolates, sugar cookies, and pumpkin pie seems to be a way of life.
The good news is it may not be as bad as you think. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average American gains about 1 pound during the winter holiday season, far less than the 5 to 8 pounds commonly believed.
The problem is that people often don’t lose the weight, and it can add up over the years. Also, people who are overweight are more likely to gain as much as 5 pounds during the holidays, according to the NIH.
It’s perfectly fine — even healthy — to indulge during the holidays; just don’t go for broke. No matter what you do, don’t starve yourself or skip meals, because that only sets you up for grabbing the closest plate of brownies.
Here are 12 tips for keeping holiday weight gain under control:
- Plan ahead.Before you go out, slip a cheese stick and some almonds, or another healthy fats snack, into your purse (or bag) to fight off temptations.
- Be the slowest eater at the table. This will give you a chance to notice when you feel satisfied. Slow down by challenging yourself to chew each bite 20 times, putting your utensils down between bites, and taking 30 minutes per plate.
- Drink plenty of water.Be sure to drink a glass before the party to help fill you up.
- Bring your own healthy dish to the party so you know there’s at least one you can splurge on.
- Use a small plate so it looks full.
- Remember, you can eat whatever you’d like, as long as it’s in moderation.
- Ditch sweet drinks and consume alcohol in moderation, if at all. Choose sparkling water (sweetened with a little stevia or erythritol) with citrus slices in stemware for no-calorie bubbly.
- Don’t hang out by the buffet table. Chatting beside it will only tempt you to graze.
- Go small. Many desserts are being made in bite-sized portions now, which is fantastic for getting the sweet cravings fix while keeping the portion size in check.
- Before going back for seconds, wait 20 minutes for your food to “settle.” You might feel full and lose interest in more munching.
- Find ways to exercise every day. If exercise is hard to fit in with a busy holiday schedule, try the 10×10 rule: fit in 10 minutes twice a day for a total of 20 minutes per day.
- Incorporate daily stress relievers like exercise, journaling and meditation — and avoid waiting until the last minute for gifts and preparations. Consider making a list of the traditions you love, and it’s OK to say no and skip some festivities to avoid over-scheduling yourself.