The average adult will gain 1 to 4 lbs per year. Even worse, this does not accumulate slowly over the course of the year.
Almost all weight gain happens solely during the holidays (from Thanksgiving to New Years)! The unfortunate part: most people will not lose that weight over the rest of the year.
At Fed Kitchen, we want to help you reach your health goals all year long! To help you stay on track, we have put together some tips on how to avoid the dreaded Holiday Gain.
Avoid the All or Nothing Mentality
Just because you enjoyed a few holiday meals doesn’t mean you have to fall off the healthy cliff during this holiday season. Enjoy the holiday for a meal or even two, but then get right back on the health train! A couple of meals won’t derail your goals...but I can guarantee that a week’s worth of bad eating decisions probably will. That is why it is important to plan ahead. We recommend having healthy meals already prepped each week so that you can get right back to it!
Practice Mindful Eating
Slow down and savor each bite. We have said it before, but the practice of mindful eating can produce huge results in terms of a decrease in calories consumed. A simple way to do this is to put your fork down between bites.
Your body is very good at listening to instructions. Tell your body what you want it to do with all those calories. Get up and get active if you know you are going to chow down later in the day. This will create a slight caloric deficit and rev up the metabolism slightly for the rest of the day. My family has a tradition of running a 5k every Thanksgiving. Now, we may have not ran all year up to this point, but we believe in this tradition. It’s an easy way to start off the day healthy, and it gets us moving.
Make your own family tradition involving movement. Throw a football around after the meal, or even better, organize a family walk to get everyone involved!
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
I know….you want to save all the calories for the feast, but trust me, eating even a light breakfast can work wonders in controlling your appetite and reducing the calories you eat later in the day. Start the day with a light breakfast of proteins and veggies. The protein and the fiber from the vegetables are sure to keep your appetite in control for hours.
Avoid the Liquid Calories
Liquid calories from sodas and juice are probably the easiest way to over-consume calories in any meal. Focus on drinking water, coffee, or unsweetened tea with your meals.
The same can be said about alcohol. Alcohol is preferentially metabolized before any other macronutrient (carbs, fats, and proteins). This means that your body is much more likely to store excess calories from food as fat when you have alcohol in your system. A drink or two when socializing with family and friends is perfectly fine, but moderation is key. No one wants to see you stumbling into the Thanksgiving turkey or slurring Christmas carols.
Load Up Your First Plate with Protein and Veggies
Stuffing, cakes, cookies, and pies, oh my! Your plans may be to immediately snack on a few sweets or carb heavy dishes, but reach for the protein first instead. Fill up your plate with foods such as meats, beans, quinoa, or chickpeas. These foods have been scientifically proven to make you feel fuller for longer and increase metabolism. Don’t forget to add in at least a palm sized portion of veggies to your plate! Even a small portion of vegetables will provide fiber that can keep you feeling full and also feed your healthy gut bacteria.
Use a Smaller Plate
If your family is anything like mine, you typically have platters for plates around the holidays. But no one will judge for using a smaller plate for your regular meal. This will cause you to get smaller portions. You will also have to get up much more frequently if you want extra, giving your mind and stomach a chance to realize just how full you really are.
Enjoy Your People
Finally, and most importantly, lets stop worrying about the food so much and instead, catch up with loved ones. The holidays are about more than burying yourself in a glorious food coma. Instead of worrying about sampling every dish, how about you sample a conversation with every relative. You haven’t caught up with those distant cousins recently have you? It’s time to see how their life has been going. Conversation and closeness are things we are sorely missing in our modern society. It’s time we reforge our bonds with friends and family, one conversation at a time.