Tips to Prevent Weight Gain during the Holidays:
With the holiday season right around the corner, I’m sure most of us are worried about gaining a few extra pounds. With Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Eid, Diwali, New Year’s, or whatever holidays your celebrate this time of year, all happening back to back, the typical American gains 3-5 pounds or more per year this season.
Since obesity and associated chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, are a growing epidemic in this country, it’s important to maintain, or for many to lose weight and not gain any extra pounds this holiday season.
While no one wants to gain weight, many of us do. So how can we prevent it?
Well let’s understand why it’s SO easy to gain the weight during the holidays. For every 3500 extra calories your body consumes, you gain 1 extra pound. Now if you break this down by day, that’s only eating 500 extra calories per day to gain 1 whole pound a week. With lattes that range from 400-800 calories and hidden calories when eating out, to all the extra food available at this time, you can imagine how easy it is to eat only 500 extra calories than your body needs per day and put on the weight fast.
So keep that in mind this holiday season and also try to follow these few tips to help keep the extra pounds off:
- Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Without an adequate breakfast, your whole day can get thrown off. You become ravenously hungry causing you to overeat at meals, you can experience a loss of lean body mass or muscle which ultimately lowers your metabolism, and you often experience more emotional eating where you constantly binge more throughout the day. So make sure you eat breakfast everyday this holiday season, and while you’re at it, make sure it’s rich in protein and fiber. Protein and fiber take longer to digest and thus helps to keep you full longer. Try Greek Yogurt with berries and granola, egg white omelet with whole wheat toast, whole grain cereal with milk, fruit, and pieces of low fat string cheese.
- Drink lots of water. Studies show you need at least 8 cups of water a day, but the timing is also important. Make sure to drink a glass of water before and during meals during the holidays. This helps keep you fuller and can prevent overeating that often occurs given the abundance of food available this season.
- Carry some healthy snacks with you to eat before you attend a holiday function. I know many people think that you should starve yourself before going to a holiday function because you know you will eat a lot at the party, but to prevent the extra weight gain, it’s wise to have a small snack before you arrive at the party. Again, this will help curb your appetite and prevent you from eating too much. I always like pairing a healthy carb with some protein for the best satiety. Try an apple with some peanut butter, baby carrots with hummus, Greek yogurt with some berries, or a protein bar for something you can grab on the go.
- If you’re attending a potluck function, try to bring something healthy that you know will be a good option for you to eat. Maybe a veggie platter, a fruit salad, or a simple salad. If you’re the host for the night, try making a few healthy substitutions when cooking. Using cooking spray instead of oil or butter is a good strategy, or using more herbs and spices to flavor your foods rather than excess salt or fats. Also, try to incorporate some whole grains in the meal. Try making a quinoa side dish, a whole wheat pasta salad, or make or buy whole wheat rolls.
- Save room for exercising! I know time is scarce during the holidays, but making sure you are burning calories through exercise will allow you to have some buffer room with your food intake to prevent the extra weight gain. Just 30 minutes a day of cardio will help prevent the extra weight gain, among other benefits to your health. Also be creative with your exercise. If you don’t have time to make it to the gym, try jogging, walking, biking, exercising at home, taking the stairs at work, or joining a sports team to keep you exercising regularly.