It should be the “best time of the year”. The holiday season, which seems to be arriving earlier and earlier as the years go by, is filled with great music, good friends, and delicious food. While most people enjoy (or tolerate) music festivals and spend time with family and friends, the delicious food portion can create feelings of anxiety and stress in anyone, even the most self-disciplined person. According to some medical studies, a person can expect to gain between three and 12 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s. There’s also research that suggests the average holiday weight gain is just a pound, and good news, the same study also found that half of holiday weight gain is lost shortly after the holidays!
Many people expect to gain some weight during the holiday season and are adequately equipped to deal with the problem. Gym memberships, daily walk, and vacation-themed 5k tours come in handy. Of course, it’s no surprise that gyms, weight loss centres, and YMCAs are seeing a huge surge in membership and attendance once January rolls around. How can you prepare in advance for the celebrations, especially since your weight and diet are usually related to your emotional and mental state?
WEIGHT GAIN DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Several seasonal holidays can encourage overeating, lack of exercise, and the consumption of high-calorie foods. Adults in western societies gain an average of 1 pound between mid-November and mid-January. That might not sound like a lot, but most people don’t lose that extra baggage. Therefore, regardless of the time of year, the holidays can be one of the biggest contributors to your total annual weight gain. Gaining weight during the holidays is not inevitable.
That’s because the brain mechanism that causes hunger, driven by the levels of salt and sugar in the bloodstream, is not the same one that causes us to start eating to stop eating. If we kept eating until our blood sugar levels returned to normal, we would probably explode, as it can take more than half an hour for the effects of a meal to hit the bloodstream.
Hence, the brain uses past experiences to predict when to stop and makes us feel “full” when we’ve eaten enough. However, this neurological system works better in some people than others, partly depending on our genes. Many factors can interfere with this prediction of when we’ve had enough: drinking alcohol, adjusting to those around us, boredom, fear, or excitement – a perfect recipe for excess.
IS IT NORMAL TO GAIN WEIGHT DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Everyone loves the holidays and looks forward to them. Holidays are a welcome change after a stressful day at work. It’s a time to connect with family and friends. However, for most people, their exercise routine can be disrupted during the holidays.
STEPS TO FOLLOW
1) SNACK WISELY
During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other treats are usually available for you to grab at your leisure. When treats are readily available, you are more likely to snack unnecessarily.
At home, this problem can be solved by keeping sweets out of sight. However, this strategy is harder to avoid in situations you cannot control, such as for example, at work or a family gathering, try to be mindful of your snacking habits. If you’re eating just because there’s food and not because you’re hungry, it’s best to avoid snacking altogether.
However, if you’re hungry and need a snack, go to real food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are filling snacks that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats that can lead to weight gain.
2) GET ACTIVE WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch and watching TV, are common Christmas traditions in many families. Inactivity can contribute to weight gain, especially when accompanied by overeating. Involving some types of physical activity with your family can be beneficial for weight management. Even something as simple as a family walk can take your mind off the meal and allow you to connect with loved ones.
You can also stay active over the holidays by signing up for a workplace or community fitness event. Races are a popular choice.
3) WATCH YOUR PORTION SIZES
As the holidays are near, it can be easy to overload your plate. Those who eat larger portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t. The best way to overcome this is to control portion sizes or use smaller plates.
To determine the correct portion size, read food labels. If you can’t do either, use your best judgment to fill your plate with an appropriate amount of food.
4) GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Lack of sleep, which is quite common on vacation, can lead to weight gain. That’s because those who don’t get enough sleep tend to be hungrier, burn more calories, and exercise less. Sleep restriction can increase hunger hormone levels, which ultimately leads to increased calorie intake.
In addition, insufficient sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This may be due to disruptions in your circadian rhythm, a biological clock that regulates many of your bodily functions
5) PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
People are often in a hurry during the Christmas season, which often leads to multitasking during mealtimes. Studies show that those who eat while distracted are more likely to overeat. This is because they are unable to pay attention to their body’s satiety signals. To avoid this, eat mindfully and minimize distractions, including work and electronic devices. Try to chew slowly and thoroughly, which allows you to better recognize your body’s signals of satiety and eat fewer calories.
It may also help to take several breaths before you start eating. This can lead to relaxation and help you focus your attention on your plate instead of your to-do list. Several studies show that those who engage in mindful eating practices are less likely to gain weight.
6) MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVEL
Keeping up with the demands of everyday life, holidays can be stressful. Stressed people often have high levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels can lead to weight gain as it has been linked to increased food intake.
Additionally, a stressful lifestyle can lead to more cravings for junk food. For these reasons, it’s important to keep stress levels under control in general, but especially during the holidays when you can be busy and surrounded by unhealthy foods. Many techniques can help you relieve stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
7) FOCUS ON FIBER
Fiber is another important nutrient that induces feelings of fullness. Some studies show that increasing fiber can reduce total calorie intake, which can help prevent weight gain while on vacation. Unfortunately, many common holiday dishes lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to eat high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
8) BALANCE YOUR MEALS WITH PROTEIN
Holiday meals are often high in carbohydrates but low in protein. However, it is important to get some protein with each meal as it promotes satiety and can help with weight maintenance.
In fact, eating protein-based meals can automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite. Protein is also beneficial for weight control, as it stimulates metabolism and appetite levels. Reduction in hormones.
To reap these weight management benefits, consume at least 25-30 grams of protein with each meal. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, and some plant-based foods such as beans and quinoa.
9) BRING A HEALTHY PLATE TO SHARE
It can be easy to overeat or focus on gaining weight with high-calorie foods at Christmas parties. However, you are in control of what you eat. A simple trick is to bring your own healthy plate to share. This way you can make sure you’re eating something that meets your weight goals.
10) REDUCE TASTE TESTING
Many people spend a lot of time cooking and baking during the Christmas season. Not surprisingly, this can lead to weight gain as their dishes are easy to taste. Even small bites of holiday dishes can add calories.
Sample tasting of your dishes can be important, especially when you are cooking for others, but a small bite is probably more than enough. You should also make sure that you do not feel hungry when cooking because it is much easier to overdo the taste test with a growling stomach.
11) LIMIT LIQUID CALORIES
During the holidays, alcohol, sodas, and other high-calorie beverages are common. These drinks can add a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, alcohol consumption is often associated with increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain. When trying to control your weight, it’s best to limit your intake of high-calorie beverages.
12) LIMIT YOUR INTAKE OF DESSERTS
Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. This often leads to excess sugar intake, a common cause of weight gain. Instead of eating every candy in sight, focus on your favourites and skip the rest away.
Another trick is to enjoy the desserts you like by simply taking the time to eat them slowly, which will make you feel more satisfied and you’re less likely to overdo it.
13) USE A SMALLER PLATE
Dinners and potlucks are common during the Christmas season. These celebrations don’t have to ruin your diet if you eat from a smaller plate. People tend to eat larger portions from large plates, which can lead to overeating. Therefore, a smaller plate is an easy way to control portions.
14) CHANGE UP YOUR RECIPES
High-calorie homemade products are one of the main causes of overweight gain on vacation. However, you can reduce the calorie content of recipes in many ways. Here are some ideas:
- Replace butter with applesauce, mashed bananas, or mashed pumpkin.
- Instead of sugar, use a low-calorie substitute like stevia, erythritol, or xylitol.
- Add dry fruit instead Orcandies Chocolate Chips.
- Flavourful dishes using herbs and spices instead of butter
- Use cooking methods like baking, steaming, or roasting instead of frying.
- Substitute low-fat or lean foods like milk for cream.
- Replace cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.
15) USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
Many people report success with their weight goals when they have a partner to pursue them with. Try to find a fitness partner who has similar weight goals as this person can keep you motivated and accountable on vacation. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues to connect with someone a good match.
16) Weigh yourself regularly
Weighing yourself regularly while on vacation can help remind you of your weight goals so you can act before hitting one significant weight gain occurs. Studies suggest that people who weigh themselves regularly maintain or lose their weight better than those who don’t weigh themselves.
Find a routine that works best for you. Some find it beneficial to monitor their weight daily, while others prefer it once or twice a week.
16) PLAN AHEAD
Pre-planning can go a long way in preventing weight gain on vacation. If you have parties on the calendar, ask what meals will be served or bring your own plate. Decide in advance what you want to eat and how much.
It can also be helpful to make a list of healthy holiday recipes, so you don’t run out of ideas when you need to bring plates to a party.
17) AVOID PROCESSED FOODS
While processed foods are quick and easy, they often contain too much sugar and unhealthy fats, which impact your weight. To avoid being overweight, opt for whole foods and cook your meals from scratch. This will help you take control of your diet and control your weight.
18) SKIP SECONDS
Christmas meals are sometimes served in buffet style, with multiple options in unlimited quantities to choose from.
19) DRAW THE LIMIT
If you really want to control your weight, it can help to set a limit draw, set limits for yourself, and stick to your nutritional goals. It’s okay to say no to certain foods and habits that don’t align with your goals. It’s also important to be aware that you might make a mistake or two. People often give up on their goals after this happens. However, it’s better to make healthier choices the next time you eat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Take some time to enjoy the holiday season and attend family gatherings and parties without the fear and stress of gaining too much weight. If you plan and have the right mindset, you can focus on having fun rather than the wrong foods.
While quick and easy, these foods often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that take a toll on your weight. To prevent weight gain, opt for whole foods and cook your meals from scratch. That way, you can monitor your diet and stay on top of your weight.