It’s about to begin. The wonderful, magical holiday season filled with family gatherings, office parties, presents, smiling children… and probably a few more pounds added to your waistline.
No matter where you go during the time period between Halloween and New Years there’s an endless supply of yummy temptations. They pop up in your office like chocolatey, sugary booby traps waiting to blast your daily calorie count through the roof. They lurk around the corner disguised as holiday cheer and spring out of the oven dressed as grandma’s famous sweet potato pie.
I have bad news.
Holiday weight gain is real.
But the truth is it probably isn’t as bad as most people believe. Studies show that most Americans only gain between 1-2 pounds during the indulgent holiday season. The problem, however, is that despite their New Years Resolution, most people are unlikely to lose the added pounds and eventually, those pounds add up.
I also have good news.
I have 3 quick tips that can help you avoid gaining weight this season. They can even help you keep your New Year’s Resolution.
TIP 1: Get Active and Include your Family and Friends
It’s common to spend the holidays sitting on the couch watching television or chatting with family and friends. These sedentary activities can contribute to holiday weight gain.
Instead, go for a walk while you chat or plan a light-hearted game of football. Even a low-activity game indoors like charades is likely to get you moving around and burning off a bit more calories than you would otherwise.
You can take this tip with you into the new year. If you plan to tackle your new year’s resolution by spending an hour everyday sweating alone at the gym, you’re unlikely to stick to it. The path to sustained weight loss is changing your habits and that’s easier done with a group of supportive friends or family.
Find a fun group-activity that gets you up and moving. Preferably one you and your friends will like doing on a regular basis. The more people involved the more likely you are to keep it going.
TIP 2: Catch some Zs
You may not know it, but the holidays are a common period of sleep deprivation for many adults. Between shopping, cooking, planning parties, attending parties, and sneaking out of bed at 1 am to be Santa it’s easy to end up with 4 hours of sleep instead of 8.
Sleep deprivation may be another cause of holiday weight gain. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to be hungrier. Lack of sleep can also cloud your judgment. So in addition to being hungrier, you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices.
Most healthy adults need between 6 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Try giving yourself a regular sleep and wake time through the holidays. Stick to it in the new year and keep reaping the benefits.
TIP 3: Use a smaller plate
Did you know that the average size of dinner plates has increased by nearly 3 inches over the last century? Interesting that our waistlines have also increased.
Using smaller dinnerware is an easy way to control your portions without having to overthink it.
By using a plate that is 3 inches smaller you are likely to consume between 200-250 fewer calories per meal. That may not seem like a lot initially but those calories add up.
Buy yourself a set of smaller dinner plates as a bonus Christmas gift and retire your larger plates in the new year. You’ll be one step closer to reaching your resolution goal.
Bonus Tip: DON’T fast before the big dinner.
Never arrive at a party or gathering hungry.
A common misconception is that if you don’t eat before the big holiday dinners you’ll be able to safely consume more calories without having to worry about blowing your limit.
Sadly, this is not true.
It’s very unlikely that there will be very many healthy, low-calorie items on the menu for the evening. If you arrive hungry, even though you’ve saved all your calories for this one meal, you are likely to consume more of the calorie-dense foods. By the end of the day, you may actually consume more calories than you would have otherwise.