It’s no secret that the holiday season includes a lot of good food and plenty of opportunities to cheat on your diet. From the Halloween candy to the Thanksgiving creamed corn, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of your low-carb, low-sugar, keto-friendly, and/or paleo diet. Holiday weight gain is not just a term that’s passed around in humor during this time of the year; according to actual research, it’s a real thing.
Research conducted by Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab found that from October through December, the studied individuals experienced slight weight gain compared to the rest of the year, with the peak of the weight gain occurring 10 days after Christmas.
If you spend most of the year practicing healthy eating, then the holidays can really place some major hurdles in front of you and challenge your commitment to your diet. But no one wants to eat a kale salad instead of Thanksgiving dinner or a piece of fruit instead of Christmas cookies, so how does one balance healthy eating and indulging in some holiday delights?
Avoid Holiday Weight Gain With These Simple Tips
Thankfully, it is possible to strike a balance and avoid holiday weight gain. You just need to practice some simple tips throughout the holiday season to ensure you maintain all the hard work you’ve put into your health earlier in the year.
Be Smart About Your Drinks
Whether it’s a holiday cocktail, a glass of eggnog, or a seasonal coffee shop drink, be smart about the drinks you’re choosing to consume. If you normally have a few alcoholic beverages a week, it’s okay to maintain that. Just be conscious not to drink more than you normally do and plan out which beverages you’re going to accept and decline.
For instance, you may be attending a holiday work lunch then going to another friend’s party later in the evening. Decline the eggnog at the work party if you’re going to be sipping on some later in the evening.
Choose Party Bites Wisely
The holidays are usually the time people bust out the puff pastry and cheesy appetizers. If you have a selection of finger foods to choose from, go for the leaner options. If you only have one option, then try not to load up on more than one type on your plate.
If you’re the one hosting the holiday party, use the opportunity to make some delicious finger foods using clean ingredients. For example, you can offer fresh spring rolls at your party instead of the traditionally fried egg rolls.
Accommodate Your Indulgences
Many of us end up standing at the holiday dessert table wondering if we should or shouldn’t pick up a slice of delicious pie. You can forego this dilemma by making proper accommodations ahead of time.
If you know you’re going to a holiday party on Friday night, try to minimize the treats you may normally allow yourself to indulge in earlier in the week so that you can enjoy the good food at the party without any guilty feelings.
Have Safety Foods on Hand
While you may not show up to a holiday party with your own meal in hand, it’s definitely wise to pack a healthy lunch and healthy snacks for work. The office is one of the easiest places to overindulge at during the holiday season.
Whether it’s your co-worker’s sugar cookies or a box of chocolates from a client, the temptations are often strongest when you’re at work. Having a healthy snack or lunch to turn to when you’re hungry will help you avoid diving into the box of chocolates or snacking on the sugar cookies.
Don’t Accept Leftovers
It’s best to decline any leftover food you may be offered to take home when leaving a holiday party. Sure, you may have planned your week well so that you could indulge in that slice of cheesy lasagna, but you probably didn’t plan your week well enough to indulge in it twice.
So, you should either decline the leftovers or, if you do accept them, be sure to freeze them right away when you get home. That way, you can save the extra slice for another time when you haven’t had lasagna in a while.
It’s easy to lose track of your regular exercise routine or miss a workout when the time you normally set aside for it is taken up by a holiday gathering. It’s important, however, to make sure you are still devoting time each day to stay active.
If you normally work out in the evening, wake up a little earlier in the day to get your workout in during the morning (at least for the days you know you will be attending a gathering). Not only will the workout help you maintain your fitness regimen, but it will also help you keep your cravings in check throughout the day.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
One of the best parts about the holiday season is the chance to mingle with family and friends and enjoy each other’s company. The easiest tip you can practice at a party to avoid holiday weight gain is to simply focus your attention on the guests at the party and interacting with them.
Don’t hang out by the food where the temptation to indulge may be greatest. Instead, find someone to chat with on the other side of the room and keep yourself busy away from the food. The holidays are your chance to socialize and relax in the comfort of good friends and good times.