The holiday season means time with family and friends and, of course, plenty of food. With all the enticing scents and decadent dishes, it’s no surprise that studies show Americans gain one to two pounds during the holiday season. Although these are small numbers, the pounds can begin to add up over time and may go unnoticed until several feasts pass by. Even with so many treats to choose from there are still ways to enjoy every bite without leaving the party feeling like a stuffed turkey.
Here are some tips for enjoying the holidays without adding extra pounds:
Don’t Skip Meals. Many of us tend to believe we should consume less during the day to prepare for a big holiday feast. Skipping meals to prepare for a holiday meal will only heighten the chances of overeating in one sitting. Eat normal meals before the festivities to keep you from feeling ravenous once the gathering begins.
Eat Smaller Portions. Serving yourself smaller portions of all your favorites will satisfy your cravings without the uncomfortable full feeling. Using a smaller plate is a great way to design your perfect meal and keep you from overeating. Head for the vegetables and salad bar first to fill up before adding starches and sweets.
Keep Moving. With all the planning and cooking that takes place during this time of year, physical activity can land on the back burner. Being active during the holidays is the best way to reduce stress and make up for any extras you may eat. Go for a walk with the family after a meal or take laps around the party to add steps to your day.
Know Your Drinks. Drinking water in-between alcoholic beverages will keep you hydrated and prevent you from going over board from drinking too many calories. Use a smaller glass for your favorite eggnog or seltzer instead of sugar-loaded mixers to keep from consuming too much excess sugar.
Bring Healthy Options to Share. If you ever feel worried about getting all the greens you desire to start your meal off right, contribute a favorite nutritious dish to the party that everyone can enjoy.
Bottom Line: There are many ways to avoid holiday weight gain without sacrificing delicious food with family and friends. With the added stress that comes with planning for this bustling season, don’t let your health fall to the wayside. Keep calm and enjoy every bite mindfully. Learn more about maintaining your weight during the holidays and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Caroline Guilford, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.
1. Harvard Medical School
2. Center for Disease Control
3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics