Nutrition Blog

Are You Worried About Weight Gain During the Holiday?

You don’t need to worry about holiday weight gain – It’s all about attitude!

Halloween to Thanksgiving – it’s a time for candy corn, caramel apples, pumpkin spice and everything nice. Truly a favorite time of the year, except if you are worried what all the abundance might do to your waist line! Despite our fear of excessive holiday weight gain, the average American gains about one pound during the holiday season. That one pound doesn’t sound like much, unless you gain that pound year after year!

How does one manage the holidays with grace without feeling guilty, overstuffed and defeated? Well, it all starts with attitude and mindset. Many people have an “all or nothing” attitude. Either they are “on the diet” or they are not. This “either-or” attitude can lead to negative self-talk that leads to feelings of guilt for over indulging and eventual weight gain. When people feel they have “slipped up” they throw all their regular eating habits out the window. Celebrations don’t have to derail your lifestyle!

Here are 9 tips to help you get through the holidays with grace and without the food guilt!

Stick to your regular routines.

Treat the holidays like any other day, week or month. Try not to change your regular eating habits and exercise. If you know you are going out to dinner in the evening or to a holiday gathering, make sure that breakfast and lunch are consistent. Get your walk or workout in as well. Remember, it’s just another day; with a twist!

Don’t go to that party hungry!

Make sure you have a sustaining snack like crackers and peanut butter or veggies and hummus before you go to that holiday party. Arriving there hungry will surely set you up for overeating. Once there, navigate the spread of food and decide on 2-3 things you want. These might be food items that you probably can’t have the rest of the year, because it isn’t accessible to you or you just don’t know how to make it (like eclairs or cheesecake!). Eat them slowly and savor every bite!

Don’t hang around the bar or buffet table.

Leave the area where food is set up after you have served yourself. Out of sight out of mind! The point of the gathering isn’t to eat yourself into oblivion, but to connect and socialize with friends and loved ones.

Mind your alcohol!

It’s easy to have a drink or two or three at a holiday gathering. Grab your drink and a glass of water. Alternate between the two drinks. Nurse your drink and focus on the conversation, not the pouring.

Keep mindless eating at bay.

Keep one hand “busy” with water or seltzer so that it’s harder for your other hand to mindlessly gobble down appetizers that come your way. Eat what you love, eat it slowly and enjoy!

Mind your company.

The holiday season is about connecting with friends and family we may not see often. Gravitate towards the people that are happy and grateful to see you, and away from people who are prone to making cutting comments. Staying away from “toxic” people will keep your stress levels low, and will help keep any unhealthy coping mechanisms, like overeating and drinking, on the sidelines.

You don’t have to please everyone!

If someone comments on your food choices, you don’t have to engage with them. You can change the subject or politely leave the situation. Remember, just because someone offers you food, doesn’t mean you have to accept. You can politely decline by saying, “Thanks, it looks delicious, but I’m stuffed”.

One day of overeating won’t break the bank!

If you happen to overindulge one day, it’s okay. One or two days of overeating won’t actually lead to weight gain, although you probably will feel the bloat and heartburn the next day! Now, if you toss aside your healthy eating habits and neglect your exercise routine for a month or two, you will surely see your weight creeping up!

Don’t forget movement!

Movement is a great stress reliever that not only helps manage weight, but allows us to break up or start our day refreshed and energized. Although the holiday season is a busy time and our schedules are inevitably different, try to find every opportunity to move:

  • Try to accumulate 15-25 minutes of walking daily.
  • Take the stairs or walk the escalators at work.
  • Walk your child to school instead of driving them.
  • If there is music at a party, try to hit the dance floor!

With the right mindset, you won’t need a diet and can still feel guilt free

The holidays are joyous, but they can also be hectic and stressful. Routines and schedules will inevitably be altered, but the key is to try to keep your regular lifestyle and eating patterns as consistent as possible. Try not to live up to unrealistic expectations and make a concerted effort to protect your down time. Whether it’s an invitation, an ask at your children’s school or an additional errand someone is asking you to run, you have the right to politely decline without the guilt. You don’t want to reach your breaking point. If you do, things will definitely spiral and lead to unhealthy behaviors and ultimately holiday weight gain.

Indulge in self-pampering. Try to protect 20 minutes a day to do something for yourself, like meditating, dancing, or taking a long bubble bath. These consistent behaviors will allow the stress of the season to slowly melt away.

If you think all of this is out of reach, think again. Mindset is key and how you approach the holidays is the most important piece. Acknowledge that you will need to modify your routines. Try to shift your thinking. Instead of throwing out all your healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors from October to December and “swearing” to be “perfect” come January, take small, realistic steps to engage in the healthiest behaviors that you can. If you are able to do that, you should have no trouble surviving the holidays and you might even enjoy yourself in the process!

If you’re interested in working on your mindset around your health and nutrition goals, please visit my weight management Services page or send me a note on my Contact page.

References: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2016/11/healthy-holiday-foods-fun, https://bewell.stanford.edu/avoiding-holiday-weight-gain/

Voula Manousos’ writing is featured in the “Winchester Living Magazine” and “The Winchester Star” of Wicked Local.

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