With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year just around the corner come an issue that many people grapple with every year—holiday weight gain. Party invitations will come left and right, and when there’s a party, there’s usually delicious food, lots of it.
It’s inevitable that you may want one or two of those delicious iced reindeer cookies or go for a second helping during dinner. Indulging a little during the holidays is not a problem. However, the problem is that most people never shed off the extra pounds they gain during the season.
A little weight gain isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re not careful, the pounds can pile up with all the unhealthy and high-calorie food within arm’s reach. That said, here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to keep the ideal weight this holiday season.
The holiday season shouldn’t be an excuse to slow down or stop exercising. In fact, you should be working out more if you want to burn off the additional calories you’re going to eat at parties and gatherings.
If you exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day, add another 15 minutes, and try raising the intensity of your exercise. Exercise can seem like an arduous task when you just want to binge-watch your favorite series during the holiday. That’s why you set yourself up for success.
Got a treadmill or indoor bike? Set it up in front of your TV, put on your show, and start exercising. Or instead of driving, why not ride a bike to some of your shortest trips?
Exercising can be fun with good company, so invite a friend to go on a walk or run with you. Dogs make for excellent exercise buddies too. Go hiking with your pooch, or take him with you when you go jogging. If you’re staying with your family during the holidays, you can do something together, like playing a sport or going walking.
Staying active during the holiday season is essential if you don’t want the additional pounds to pile up. However, be careful not to overdo it. Avoid injuries by resting and recovering when you need to. Use a kinesiology tape to prevent muscle strain. Ask your doctor or trainer about safe exercises you can do to burn calories.
Those reindeer cookies, cupcakes, and pretzels are some of the usual culprits of holiday weight gain. If you want to keep the damage minimal, lay off the snacks and desserts. Most of the traditional holiday snacks have lots of sugar and calories but little else.
Instead of these unhealthy foods, go for snacks that will fill you up but won’t add much to your calorie levels, like fruits and vegetables. Prepare some healthy snacks, like avocados, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and nuts, so you can munch on them when you’re hungry.
If you’re baking treats, don’t make too much. Try using a healthier recipe with less sugar and fat. Also, avoid buying plenty of snacks to get rid of the temptation.
Food isn’t the only thing you need to watch out for during holidays. Lots of holiday beverages are also rich in sugar and calorie. And holiday celebrations are often used as excuses to go overboard with certain stuff or to try out something you’ve never done before.
If you want to keep the weight off and stay healthy, stay away from sugar-rich and high-calorie drinks, like soda, fruit juice, cocktails, sports drinks, premade smoothies, and sweetened tea and coffee. Minimize your alcohol intake to one glass a day or less as well.
Diet drinks are no good too because artificial sweeteners can make you feel hungrier and make you eat more. Stick to water and low-calorie, unsweetened beverages. And keep yourself in top shape even after the holidays with an effective detox plan.
Most people can’t resist filling up their plates during potlucks and parties, so they tend to overeat. Keep yourself from consuming bigger portions by using a smaller plate. Even if you fill up your plate, you won’t be eating excessively as long as you don’t go for seconds or thirds.
When you eat, chew slowly, and savor the food. It will help you realize sooner when you’re already full and avoid overconsumption.
It’s not enough to control your portions. You also need to be discerning about what you eat. Certain foods can be more fattening than others. Unfortunately, holiday menus tend to lean more on the unhealthy and calorie-dense side.
Half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits, one quarter should be protein (e.g., lean meat and legumes), and the other quarter should be starches. Keeping off the pounds is not so much about not eating; instead, it’s about being conscious of what you consume.