The weight gain struggle is real with tempting holiday celebrations and treats. It’s hard to focus on nutrition with social events, shopping and a hectic schedule. And no one wants to diet during the holidays. Renown Health Registered Dietitians Kim Colegrove and Bristy Zimmerman, share their tips below for enjoying the holiday season without packing on extra pounds.
Your holiday nutrition strategy doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Instead, Colegrove and Zimmerman emphasize realistic approaches to keep weight gain in check during the holidays.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Weight Gain
“Thinking ahead is key for staying on track with your weight and health goals,” says Colegrove. “Arranging to have a healthy snack ahead of time is a good idea to avoid overeating at parties. You could also bring a healthy dish to the party, then you know there’s at least one option that will fit into your meal plan. Or you might also think about eating some of your favorite party foods, but then consider the rest of your week and balance it out accordingly. All foods can fit! It’s all about balance and portion control.”
Keep Moving Your Body
Colegrove also urges us to stay active. “There are so many benefits of exercise! Besides aiding in weight management, physical activity can boost our mood and help us to cope with stress. For many, the holidays can be a very busy and stressful time, which may contribute to overeating and weight gain. So keep up the routine! Exercise is a vital tool in maintaining weight and managing stress, especially during the holiday season.”
Slow Down and Be Satisfied
“Slowing down at any meal, including the holidays, can help us pay attention to our satiety or fullness cues,” encourages Zimmerman. “Try putting your fork down between each bite of food, focus on chewing eat bite thoroughly and stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than eating to the point of discomfort.”
Divide Your Plate to Conquer Weight Gain
Traditional holiday foods tend to be high in calories from added fat and sugar, so it’s extra important to be mindful of our portions. Zimmerman suggests an easy visual cue. “First, try filling half of a 9-inch plate with lower-calorie foods like non-starchy veggies or salad. Secondly, fill a quarter of your plate with a meat or protein-rich food. Then save the remaining quarter of your plate (about the size of your fist) for the higher-calorie carbohydrate foods like mashed potatoes, stuffing, or cornbread. If you want to enjoy several of these foods, just make the portions small enough to still fit in that quarter of your plate.”
Liquid Calories Count
“Still or sparkling water will always be the best beverage choice when avoiding weight gain,” advises Zimmerman. “If you really enjoy holiday beverages, try modifying your favorite recipes by using low-fat milk or alternative sweeteners. Be mindful that calories from sweetened beverages and alcohol can add up fast. For example, if you usually enjoy several drinks at a holiday party, even reducing from three drinks to one drink can save significant calories.”
You can set yourself up for success in the new year by having an eating game plan. “It’s important to be realistic about the holidays. They only come once a year, and they should be enjoyed! But plan ahead and find a good balance,” urges Colegrove. “Going into the holidays, it’s important to anticipate temptations and be prepared at social events. Don’t let the holiday season derail your efforts and enjoy in moderation!”