By Betty Murray
For most Americans, holidays are often a time of breaking diets, overeating and weight gain. While a 10 pound weight gain over the holidays might be extreme, adding on one or two pounds of extra padding during the holiday season isn’t uncommon.
During the holidays, we have a tendency to eat more than we would other times of the year. Between holiday parties, office potlucks, Christmas cookie baking, and Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts with the family, eating healthy this time of year is a challenge for most Americans.
Don’t be fooled, sticking to your diet plan this holiday season doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid your favorite holiday foods and all sweet treats. The holidays are a time that should be enjoyed by all, don’t let yourself miss out on the fun and festivities simply because you’re watching your weight. The secret is to have a plan for what you will eat and when.
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid holiday weight gain:
The key to maintaining (or even losing) weight during the holidays is to have a plan.
- Plan ahead. Know what you will and won’t eat before you show up at the holiday party. If you’ll be attending an afternoon or evening dinner or celebration, don’t starve yourself all day. Fill up on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables prior to the party and you’ll be less tempted to indulge.
- Make time for exercise. Finding time to workout during the holidays can be difficult, especially if you are traveling or hosting out of town guests. Schedule time to get exercise each day, and stick to it. Have fun with your workouts as well. Plan a family game of flag football, or a walk around the neighborhood with your children. Be flexible, just be sure to fit exercise into your holiday plans.
- Eat small portions. If you’re going through a buffet line, grab the smallest plate offered. Keep portions small, and fill your plate with mostly fruits and vegetables. When available, opt for lean meats or fish.
- Avoid grazing. It’s easy to lose track of how many calories you have eating during the day when you eat a bite here and a bite there throughout the day. Rather than grazing, plan on breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and dinner. If you do get the munchies during the day, always opt for fruits or veggies, rather than sliced meats, cheeses, cookies or fudge.
- Treat yourself with a healthy, sweet treat. You don’t have to miss out on the fun of holiday desserts. Make your own healthy treats using recipes with little or no sugar, fats or carbs. If you’re baking a holiday dessert, substitute sugar-free applesauce for vegetable oil to reduce the number of calories.
The holiday season may mean weight gain for most people, but that doesn’t mean you have to pack on extra pounds this holiday season. Know ahead of time what your plan is, make time for exercise, and choose your foods wisely. Most importantly, focus your attention on building relationships and spending time with those you love, rather than looking to food to satiate your need for comfort this holiday season.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.