Thanksgiving is over and the holidays have officially begun. It’s frenzy time. And tradition tells us that this is a time when people throw caution to the wind in anticipation of New Years’ resolutions.
When you think about it, it’s really not that long until the holidays are over. I got out the calendar and counted 35 days in total. How much harm can someone do in 35 days?
With this in mind, I’m kicking off the season with my top 5 ways to avoid holiday weight gain:
1. Don’t buy into it
I think the number the holidays do on weight gain is exaggerated. A few years ago I was pitching a story to a magazine and actually looked up that 7-pound-weight-gain-during-the-holidays rumor. I was surprised to find the average weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Year’s to be just under a pound.
All this talk about over-indulging, and starting the New Year virtuous, makes overeating as contagious as the flu. In fact, a 2002 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that people who anticipated going on a diet ate more than those who didn’t.
So don’t buy into it. Enjoy the traditional food that’s around during the holidays but break the tradition of overeating.
2. Don’t graze, eat meals
In his research, Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, finds that the average person has already met 90% of their daily calorie needs before sitting down to their holiday meal.
How is this possible? It’s all the grazing that’s done before the meal. A little bit of this. A lot of that. More picking. A little more picking.
So instead of grazing, fill a small plate with your favorite appetizers, sit down and enjoy every bite. Remind yourself that you need just enough to hold you over (but not to spoil your appetite) until the main meal is served.
3. Be active
Exercise is your secret weapon during the holidays. It’s a stress reliever and it gives you the additional energy you’ll need.
And there really is no better time to be active. The weather is crisp and the gyms are free of crowds. I try to sign up for a walk/run in late December/early January. This way, I’m more motivated to run and use exercise as a stress reliever.
4. Practice a new way of eating
I talk a lot about eating intuitively – getting in touch with hunger cues and stopping when comfortably full. We can learn a lot from our children when it comes to eating the right amount of food our bodies need. And there’s no better time to practice an intuitive eating style than the holidays.
So experiment with eating your favorite indulgent type foods, enjoy them without judgment and stop when you’re satisfied. Remind yourself that you can have more later if you want, so there’s no reason to eat past fullness.
5. Cut back on the to do’s
The stress of the holidays makes matter worse. Families aren’t eating together, food is grabbed in a hurry and many parents stay up late doing more stuff.
Ask yourself if you really need to do everything this year. Maybe it’s time to cut back, be choosy about how you spend your time and focus more on enjoying the season.
Don’t forget to keep the meal planning going to keep your family on track with regular nutritious meals and snacks.
Any thoughts? What do you do to stay balanced during the holidays?
Want to help your family become mindful eaters? Check out Maryann’s book: How to Raise a Mindful Eater