When it comes to gaining weight during the holiday season, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: reports that we gain five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years have been blown out of proportion. The amount of weight most people probably gain is one pound. The bad news: that weight gain isn’t typically reversed once the holidays are over, which means that extra pound or two can stick around, year after year.
If you’re focused on losing weight this holiday season, it’s possible to keep your momentum going while also enjoying yourself! We sat down with two experts to get their advice on enjoying the holidays while avoiding weight gain!
Secrets to Avoiding Holiday Season Weight Gain
1. Counting Calories Isn’t the Way
“How our bodies break down each food group and the effect each food group has on our bodies is incredibly different,” South Florida Cardiologist Adam Splaver said. “One thousand calories of jelly donuts do not equal 1,000 calories of veggies. And focusing on the calories instead of the quality and quantity of food you choose to consume during the holidays can be disastrous to your waistline.”
Eating is an essential part of our celebrations, so instead of worrying about hitting a specific amount of calories, focus on tasting the foods you enjoy and filling up on the things you know are healthy.
2. “Pregame” Before Big Dinners and Parties
“We often starve ourselves before attending an event, thinking we are saving up the calories to enjoy later. But going to a party hungry often leads to overeating,” Splaver said. “The best way to prevent overeating is to eat a light meal and drink lots of water before you head out the door. This will allow you to eat with your stomach and not your eyes, and select those food items which you really want to eat . . . in moderation, of course.”
3. Choose Wisely
“Cover half of your plate with vegetables, and just a quarter portion or less of meat,” said Dr. Divya L. Selvakumar, a Nutrition Specialist and Registered Dietitian. “Eat more fiber, including fruits, whole grains, seeds, and beans. They also help with satiety and satisfaction.”
4. (Plate) Size Matters
Our proportions have grown in size, and our waistlines have grown proportionately, Splaver says. “Grab a smaller plate and fill it up proportionately, balancing the food groups.”
5. Keep Your Schedule the Same
“If possible, do not put off physical exercise, even when traveling during the holidays,” Selvakumar said. “Go for a walk or visit a local gym, or do something physically active between meals for at least 30 minutes to one hour.” Splaver agreed, saying, “while immersing ourselves in the joy of gift giving and spending time with family and friends, we often forget the importance of taking care of ourselves. Regular exercise is an important part of your schedule and it is in your best interest to keep it up. We look better, feel better, and have more energy!”