The holidays are an exciting time of year. But between the parties, stress, and baked goods, it’s also a time when people tend to gain weight.
In fact, between mid-November and mid-January, adults gain an average of one pound or half a kilogram.
This may not seem like a lot, but most people don’t lose the weight they gain over the holidays. For this reason, holiday weight gain is one of the biggest contributors to total yearly weight gain for many people.
The good news is that weight gain during the holidays is not inevitable.
Here are 20 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season.
1. Be Active With Family and Friends
Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching sports, are common holiday traditions for many families.
An activity as simple as a family walk can provide benefits, as it will get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.
2. Be Smart When Snacking
At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of sight. However, that strategy is more difficult to avoid in situations that you cannot control, such as your workplace or a family dinner party.
You can overcome these situations by being mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself snacking just because there’s food available — and not because you’re hungry — then it’s best to avoid snacking altogether.
3. Watch Your Portion Sizes
Those who eat larger-than-recommended portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t.
The best way to overcome this is to weigh and measure your food or eat off of smaller plates.
4. Limit Liquid Calories
The holidays are a time of year when alcohol, soda, and other sweetened beverages seem to be unlimited.
These beverages can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep deprivation is quite common during the holidays, and it may cause weight gain.
This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity.
Control Your Stress Levels
Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.
Those who are stressed commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.
7. Keep Meals Balanced With Protein
Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs but lack protein.
However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.
Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa. Ensure your holiday meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.
8. Use a Smaller Plate
Dinner parties and potlucks are common occasions during the holiday season.
While people often think of these as diet disasters, they don’t have to be if you eat from a smaller plate.
This is based on the fact that people tend to consume larger portions off of large plates, which may lead to overeating.
9. Weigh Yourself Regularly
Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays may help prevent weight gain.
In some studies, individuals who weigh themselves regularly are able to maintain or lose weight better than those who do not weigh themselves.
10. Avoid Processed Foods
The hectic holiday season has led to the increased availability of processed holiday convenience foods, such as boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing.
To prevent weight gain, opt for whole foods this holiday season. Focus on making meals and baked goods from scratch instead of a box.