If you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two this holiday season. While cookies, eggnog and chocolates will all play a role in holiday weight gain, colder weather, shorter days and hectic schedules are also major contributing factors to those extra – and hard to lose – holiday pounds.
In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
Here’s the top 8 tips for managing and controlling holiday weight gain this season:
- Never arrive hungry to a holiday event. Grab a 100- to 200-calorie snack containing carbohydrates, protein, and a little bit of fat, such as a low-fat yogurt with fruit slices or a banana smeared with peanut butter. Eating a small snack before a party will take the edge off your hunger so you won't be as likely to mindlessly grab for snacks throughout the evening.
- Avoid getting tipsy. Besides the calories, alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, making you more likely to reach for the cookies and chips.
- Mingle. There’s more to the holidays than food, so look at each event as an opportunity to enjoy friends or meet new people. Try to divert your attention away from the food and toward making great conversation.
- Limit 'tastes' while cooking. If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, be mindful of the "little tastes," which can quickly add up. Instead, limit yourself to two small bites of one item pre- and post-seasoning.
- Stay active, but don't use it as an excuse to eat double portions. Most of us overestimate how many calories we burn during exercise and underestimate how many we consume. Getting in your regular workouts, though, will help compensate for those small holiday treats you just can't pass up. Walking is also a great holiday tradition, and a good way to spend time with family after a meal, rather than watching TV.
- Don't skip meals. Eating small mini-meals every four hours throughout the day will keep your metabolism revved up. Plus, skipping meals usually doesn't save you calories over the long haul because by the time you sit down to eat, you're ravenous, which makes overeating hard to avoid.
- Count Your canapes. If you’re at a party with passed canapes (or small appetizers), it’s easy to quickly lose track of all those bites. Assess what’s on each platter first and choose which three or four you want to try. Once you’ve tried that amount, stick to sipping sparkling water or snacking on veggies.
- Don't beat yourself up over one overindulgence. It's nearly impossible to put on a substantial amount of weight on from one large meal. So if you know you overdid it on Thanksgiving, cut yourself some slack but get back on track the next day.
Think you’ll need a little help getting back on track after the New Year?
Griffin Hospital’s Wellness for Life Program is a great opportunity for individuals to get a jumpstart their New Year’s resolutions and can be a great gift for a loved one this holiday season.
Wellness for Life is a 12-week, evidence-based lifestyle change program that helps prevent and treat many chronic diseases. According to a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, 80 percent of chronic diseases, like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, can be prevented with better lifestyle choices in nutrition, activity and emotional health.
Want to learn more? Call Program Director Eunice Lisk, MS, at 203-732-7107 or for more information about Wellness for Life, visit griffinhealth.org/wellness-for-life.