Concerned about the holiday season totally disrupting your weight loss progress and goals?! Well, we’re here to tell you not to worry, but simply to read on… Even though there are much more tempting, calorie-laden foods around during this time of year, there are also proven strategies to keep you on track health-wise – which we’ll discuss in this article!
Stay tuned for our nutritionist-approved tips for avoiding holiday weight gain from “turkey time” to the ball dropping at midnight! And the good news is… research is on your side. One study showed that weight gain from November to January is common in Western countries, however, the average weight gained during this time period was only about 1 lb.
That being said, weight gain was higher among people who were already overweight or obese (versus those that were a healthy weight). Plus, the results showed that people weren’t able to lose the weight they gained over the holiday period in the new year. Therefore, it’s predicted that the average weight gain for many people during the 6-week holiday season is responsible for about 51% of annual weight gain.
Break the chains of temptation and start living smarter during the winter months with these tips for avoiding holiday weight gain…
8 Proven Ways to Sidestep Holiday Weight Gain
1) Get excited about fresh, whole foods
If you’re used to eating a lot of packaged and processed foods, you may have no idea how delicious fresh, whole foods can actually be! Not to mention that they are far, far better for your health and your waistline.
Don’t believe us that healthy foods can actually also be totally delicious? Just check out the recipes for these cucumber smoked salmon rolls, goat cheese stuffed baby peppers, and colorful quinoa salad. When you can actually get excited about nutrient-packed foods that energize and satisfy, you won’t have the urge to reach for as many packaged salty or sweet snacks!
2) Never leave hungry
Next, skipping a meal so you can eat more later is definitely not a good “slim and trim” tactic for keeping up with your weight loss goals. Instead, plan a healthy yet satisfying meal for earlier in the day, so you won’t be ravaged by the time you get to your holiday party or dinner affair.
Or, have a pre-party snack an hour or two before you head out, to calm your hunger and spike your energy and metabolism. One of the best healthy and energizing meals or snacks to use for either of these strategies is a high-quality, protein-packed meal replacement shake – and the great news is there are plenty of healthy smoothie recipes to tantalize your taste buds.
3) Grab a buddy
Another great way to avoid holiday weight gain during this tempting time of year is to recruit someone to make healthy commitments alongside you – and keep each other accountable. Make a goal together, such as monitoring your added sugar intake, getting in physical activity like a walk during your lunch break every day, or eating more veggies and less refined carbs. Then, keep in touch with each other frequently to motivate each other and make sure you’re both on track!
4) Increase your protein and fiber intake
Focusing on a healthy diet in general is key to a healthy weight, but in particular, increasing your protein and fiber intake can do wonders during the holiday season. Studies show that increasing your protein intake can help you drop pounds – by reducing hunger and translating into fewer calories consumed.
In addition, fiber helps you stay full and satisfied, so you won’t have the urge to reach for chips or chocolate to hold you over until your next meal. In addition, fiber helps your digestion run smoothly and reduces bloating. To get both the protein and fiber you need daily, we recommend one of the best meal replacement shakes containing 15-20g of protein, and 5-10g of fiber.
5) Get plenty of “good fats”
Next, healthy fats are also extremely important to avoiding holiday weight gain. You may feel like you’re pre-programmed to avoid fat, but in reality, not all fats are created equal! There are actually good fats that can assist with weight loss. These fats can help boost metabolism, increase satiety, and provide invaluable nutrients that support optimal health and vitality.
Some great healthy fats to add into your diet this holiday season include avocados, olives, oils (olive, avocado, coconut, flax, MCT oil), peanuts and peanut butter, tree nuts and associated butters, grass-fed butter and small amounts of organic, full-fat dairy products.
6) Revamp your snack selection
Research also shows that we actually crave more food, therefore consume more food during the winter months. Whether this be a primitive instinct to prepare for cold weather, increased darkness causing mood changes, or lots of tempting foods around, one study shows that you may consume about 200 more calories a day starting in the fall!
A good solution? Only have foods around that you actually should be munching on… like celery or carrot sticks, low-carb and high fiber items like apples, and healthy fats (as discussed above) like peanut butter, almonds and plain Greek yogurt – which will provide invaluable nutrients and last you longer than refined carbs or candy.
7) Indulge in healthier desserts
Another way to avoid holiday weight gain is to make healthy yet still extremely tasty substitutes for your favorite holiday treats. If you love to bake, switch out high-calorie, less-healthy ingredients for nutritious ones… such as replacing vegetable oil with applesauce, mashed banana or pure pumpkin puree.
In addition, instead of replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, opt for healthier options such as plant-based Stevia, or sugar alcohols (like erythritol and xylitol); However, only use the sugar alcohols in smaller amounts, and use caution, (since sugar alcohols can cause digestive upset in some people).
8) Get creative with physical activity
Finally, as our last tip to avoiding holiday weight gain, it’s time to make exercise part of the festivities! Often when we gather with family and friends during this chillier time of year, we spend a great deal of time sitting around the table eating, or relaxing on the couch talking or watching television.
Add in some movement by thinking up some fun group activities that involve being physically active! Decorate the house together for the holidays, go out and build a snowman, take a walk to see holiday lights, or visit local holiday events in your town.
Or, just keep it really simple with a pre-planned post-dinner walk around your neighborhood to get some fresh air and help yourself digest all the holiday foods! Don’t fear the cold, just bundle up… Winter does not have to turn you or your family into couch potatoes!
Did you enjoy this article on avoiding holiday weight gain? Let us know in the comments, below! For more tips and tricks to stay healthy in every season, check out more wellness articles here.