Holiday weight gain happens to everyone, right? Not you. Not this year.
Holiday Weight Gain Basics
Research has shown that Americans are gaining more weight each year with most of the gain occurring between October and February.
The weight gain during this time of year can be attributed in large part to the increase in social eating situations. Have you been gaining weight slowly over the past several years? Do you always gain a little weight during the holidays, promise yourself you’ll lose it after the first of the year, but never really get around to it??
It’s okay, be honest.
The best plan is a proactive one. If you can avoid putting on the extra weight in the first place, then you won’t have to go through the much more difficult process of losing it. Fortunately, curbing your holiday weight gain is actually very simple.
Below, I have outlined 4 action steps that you can use to prevent holiday weight gain.
The worst choice you can make is going to a holiday party on an empty stomach. This is setting yourself up for complete and utter disaster. Pre-eat before you go, with a small amount of food that will increase your feeling of fullness, prevent cravings, and slow the digestion of any foods that you do eat when you go out. My top pre-eating foods are:
Small Salad – This has been consistently shown in scientific studies to reduce the amount of food you eat in the subsequent meal. Having a salad before you go to a party, or having a salad as your first item at the party, could help you eat 200-300 calories less.
Apple & String Cheese – The apple provides fiber and volume while the string cheese provides fat and protein. These components will signal your body that you are full and slow down digestion (making you feel full longer).
Skip The Crackers
Most holiday parties are loaded with breads, crackers, cookies and cakes. Just say no. Loading up on these starchy carbohydrates will send your blood sugar levels for a ride. This, along with the lack of fiber in these foods, will cause you to end up eating a lot of them and quickly stack up the calories….Honestly, when was the last time you ate just one cracker? Exactly. Skip the crackers.
Shrimp & Veggies Please
So, what can you eat? Shrimp, smoked fish, cheese, and vegetables (not the fried ones) are staples at holiday cocktail parties and are all good choices. Many parties also have a featured meat item that would work, such as roast beef or a spiral ham.
Broccoli, carrots, celery, and whatever other vegetables sitting near the ranch dressing are all fair game. The protein-based foods like shrimp, smoked salmon, the meat entrée and cheese are nice compliments to your veggies, by providing fat and protein (components that help with fullness).
If you have a choice, opt for hummus over Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing to dip your vegetables. The carbohydrates in hummus have very little impact on your blood sugar and the chickpeas, which are the basis for hummus, will give you additional fiber. The calorie content of creamy dressing is a nutritional black box. Just 2 TBSPs can contains 7 to 17 grams of fat. These fat grams and calories can add up fast, thus it is best to save the dressing for another time.
Watch Where You Stand
Holiday parties are full of mindless eating opportunities. I’m sure you’ve been in the following, or a similar, situation before. You’re chatting with a friend or colleague and a bowl of Chex Mix lays just within reach. Next thing you know, the conversation is over and the bowl of Chex Mix is empty. When it comes to feeling full, your body doesn’t sense these mindless eating calories, but your waistline does.
Watch where you stand at parties. Take a small plate and pile on your veggies and proteins. Then, go start a conversation on the other side of the room, away from the food table.
This tip alone can reduce how much you eat by 50%.
Holiday weight gain isn’t inevitable. Put these simple strategies into play to control the greatest source of holiday weight gain and keep the pounds off this year.
Dr. Mike Roussell PhD, is a nutritional consultant and author known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and log lasting health.