Halloween is the beginning of a season focused heavily on food. From trick-or-treating and a seamlessly never-ending stash of candy to Thanksgiving, holiday celebrations, and New Year’s Eve parties, you’re constantly facing extravagant meals, all-you-can eat buffets, and dessert temptations. It can be especially tricky to navigate all of the social gatherings if you’re trying to lose weight.
On average, we each gain one pound per year — and research shows that most of the weight is gained over the holiday season. Despite this discouraging news, you can control holiday weight gain!
In today’s blog post, I want to share five weight management tips for the holiday season.
1. Stick to your meal routine.
Whenever possible, try to eat at approximately the same times each day. As tempting as it may be, do not skip a meal or snack in preparation for a party! Instead, eat small, consistent meals throughout the day to stabilize your blood sugar and keep your hunger in check. Think about your portions too: Are you truly hungry, or are you just tempted by the offerings? Studies show that those who eat larger portions tend to gain weight more easily than others.
2. Be mindful when eating.
During the holidays, there are often easy-to-access treats, which make you more likely to snack despite not being hungry. If you find yourself snacking more than usual, it may be helpful to avoid them altogether. When you’re on-the-go, bring health options with you, like fresh fruit, nuts, or yogurt.
It’s also important to practice mindfulness during meals. The holiday season can be rushed, which leads to multi-tasking while eating. Research reveals that those who eat distracted are more likely to overeat — which makes sense! When you’re doing many things at once, you’re unable to recognize your body’s fullness signals. Instead of watching television or reading during a meal, try to chew slowly and focus on each bite.
3. Squeeze in exercise when you can.
It can be hard to stick with your usual exercise routine during the holiday season. Instead, do your best to squeeze it in when you can. Aim for 10,000 steps each day. If that feels daunting, just remember that a 15-minute walk in the morning and another one after dinner quickly adds up. Better yet, invite your family and friends to join you! Additionally, if you can, try to stand for 10 minutes every hour.
4. Plan ahead.
Add all upcoming events to your calendar so you know what you’ll be eating and when. Then, map out each day accordingly! If you have a happy hour, eat a light snack beforehand to avoid overindulging later. Or if you have a sit-down holiday meal with steak, mashed potatoes, and apple pie, try to eat fish or chicken and fresh vegetables for dinner on the days prior. If you’re hosting a party, send leftovers home with your guests to avoid a refrigerator full of tempting treats.
5. Start new traditions.
Food will always play an important role in the holidays, but that doesn’t mean every tradition has to revolve around it. Attend a concert or play. Take a walk or drive to see holiday lights in your neighborhood. Instead of meeting a friend for lattes or after-work drinks, sign up for a dance class. There are so many memorable ways to celebrate the season without a focus on food and drinks!