By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
The holiday season for many of us is a busy, food-filled time of the year that can be both joyful and extremely stressful — particularly when it comes to the dreaded holiday weight gain that haunts so many of us.
But this time of the year should be joyous and you should be able to enjoy the parties without feeling the extra stress and worry of weight gain. Here are a few of our favorite holiday weight gain prevention tips. Keep them in mind to help you stay fit and healthy during the holidays.
1. Keep Eating
No matter what happens at the many holiday and office parties and gatherings with lots of food, keep eating. Keep eating means stay on schedule and don’t let these gatherings knock you off track. The biggest issue I see with both Rebooters and clients is the meal skipping that goes on around holiday gatherings, either pre- or post. A few skipped meals can lead to extreme hunger and overeating, which can snowball into a terrible pattern of overly large meals and periods of severe hunger, neither of which lend themselves to weight maintenance.
Stay on track by continuing with your three meals and one or two snacks, even when you know you’ll be going to a party, and even when you know you ate too much the night before. Getting back on track will help keep your weight in check.
2. Keep Moving
One of the best ways to keep weight in check is by moving; however, with the hectic holidays upon us, I often find that movement is one of the first things to get off the calendar. It starts by missing regular gym classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings due to holiday parties and then that can snowball into weeks with lack of movement.
Stay on track and do yourself a favor by scheduling time for your workout (or simple movement) like you would schedule a holiday party (in black ink in your calendar). Remember that walking around the office, taking the stairs, standing while working – it all counts. Even if it’s only for 10-20 minutes (try our 20 minute do anywhere workout), staying active will help to keep your schedule on track and your waistline whittled. After all, it’s much easier to maintain than to start from scratch.
3. Stay Prepared
Don’t let yourself get so busy that you forget to do the things you need to do to stay on track like stocking your cabinet and pantry with healthy food and snacks. It’s key to make sure you’re able to keep up with purchasing healthy foods and keeping your cabinets stocked and ready to go for continued success throughout the holidays. Stay on track by setting time aside to grocery shop, or even better to prepare foods you can freeze or store in the fridge like soups, stews, hummus, juices and smoothies. Need inspiration? We have tons of recipes.
Need ideas? Check out our 10 favorite pantry staples.
4. Food-Forgive Yourself
Food forgiveness is perhaps one of the most important aspects to staying on track (during the holidays and all of the time). After all, we’re not perfect, so the likelihood that we’ll end up having something we were hoping to avoid, especially during a time when treats and high calorie foods are prevalent, is more than likely. I find that those who are able to recognize that they had something they were hoping to avoid, and then let it go are more likely to be successful with their plan longer term.
Stay on track by practicing letting it go. This doesn’t meant that you should go out and eat foods that are sugar and calorie filled and let it go all the time, but it does mean that when you have the intention to stay on track and you slip, that you let it go. This is so important because feeling guilty about choices made can cause a snowball effect into making other poor choices, so really, let it go.
5. Just Breathe
This may seem impossible at such a busy time of year, but it’s crucial that you take time to de-stress, relax and put your feet up even if it’s only for five minutes. Taking time to relax can not only help you stay on track with your plan, but can help prevent stress-related eating, mindlessness and making poor food decisions. Remember that many times when we eat it’s out of stress, not hunger.
Stay on track by practicing yoga, meditating, or simply by putting your feet up and closing your eyes or by doing whatever else relaxes you. Finding time to relax even at the busiest time of year can really help to promote making good choices and can help you enjoy yourself.
Here are 13 ways to get back on track when you’re feeling sluggish after the holidays!