Newswise — The holiday season is officially in full gear and with it comes the tempting Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s food fest. While research shows that the average person really only gains about a pound over the course of the holidays, it can still have a big cumulative effect on waistlines. That’s because the extra weight usually doesn’t come off the following year.
“Lack of sleep, an abundance of decadent food and the stress of the holidays are the perfect storm for weight gain,” said Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. “Implementing a personal wellness plan will get you through the holiday season without adding to your waistline.” Kooi suggest these tips.
1. Wear something fitted. If you wear form-fitting clothing, you’ll be less likely to overeat because the tighter fit will remind you not to eat to the point of discomfort. Wear something that makes you feel attractive, giving you a sense of empowerment.
2. Eat breakfast. Eating a substantial breakfast can keep you from overeating later on in the day and it revs up your metabolism. Be sure to include a protein-rich food item such as low-fat Greek yogurt or natural peanut butter spread on whole-wheat toast.
3. Avoid mindless munching. Don’t arrive to a holiday event hungry or resistance will be futile. Have a light, protein-rich snack such as a small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit before going to a holiday event. Make it a priority to visit with the people, not so much the buffet table.
4. Rethink your drink. Liquid calories do not satisfy hunger and can quickly lead to weight gain when consumed in excess. What’s more, sugary holiday drinks like cocoa, eggnog and apple cider can cause blood sugar swings that leave you feeling even hungrier. Sip on hot spiced teas instead.
5. Limit Alcohol. As for alcohol, moderation is the key because its inhibition-lowering effect can quickly lead to overeating. What’s more, many creamy holiday drinks can easily pack 500 calories. Cut calories with a wine spritzer made from wine and sparkling water.
6. Keep exercise a priority. The holidays are the worst time to abandon your exercise routine. But it’s vital that you make time. Reaping the stress-busting and calorie-burning benefits of exercise will empower you to stay the course. Set a goal of just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day and get in just two strength training sessions to tighten and tone.
7. Get plenty of sleep. Getting less than six hours of sleep a night causes cravings for starchy, sugary foods (hello frosted Santa-shaped cookies) and dissolves your resolve to make healthy food decisions. Most health experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested.
8. Enlist the support of a friend or family member. Apart from socializing, getting together with a friend to walk and talk will burn calories, relieve stress and help with accountability. Having an accountability partner can empower you to be more successful than you would be on your own.
9. Awareness is power. The wide selection of decadent foods can be very tempting. Don’t deprive yourself, but do splurge selectively and practice mindfulness by being aware of what you are eating, the portion size and why you are eating. Keep portions in check by sticking with a sliver of dessert or just a couple of rich hors d’oeuvres. Keeping a food journal is the best way to raise awareness of food intake.
10. Free yourself of guilt. Feeling guilty for indulging often leads to a downward spiral. Instead, channel those emotions in a more positive way by going for a brisk walk. Start fresh the next morning by recharging your motivation with a positive self-talk. Gain perspective and realize that a day of overeating doesn’t have to sabotage your best laid plans.