The holidays are a time when family and friends enjoy the reunion and, of course, eat delicious food. Several studies show that the average weight gain is one to five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, overweight people gain as much as five-plus pounds. In other words, the fatter a person is, the more pounds he/she will gain.
Why do people always gain weight whenever holidays come?
The centerpiece of most gatherings is food, usually unhealthy food. Pies, cakes, cookies, chocolate… overflowing plates, and boxes upon boxes of these foods which are high in saturated fat, calories, and sugar lead to unintentional weight gain.
In addition to the tempting foods, it seems impossible for most of us to squeeze exercise into a busy holiday schedule. Therefore, holidays may be one of the biggest contributors to your total annual weight gain.
Simple diet tips beneficial to avoid weight gain during holidays
Tip#1. Make each portion of your dish smaller.
A smaller plate is beneficial to limit calories intake. For example, one of the simplest tips to make pizzas friendly with weight loss is to cut a pie or pizza into 12 pieces instead of 8. Or, make a group of cupcakes instead of a large cake or layer cake; drink beverages with a small cup instead of a large mug.
Tip#2. Eat more high-fiber foods.
High-fiber foods induce fullness and keep you feeling full for a long time. But most of the holiday meals do have more calories instead of enough amount of fiber. You’d better add more fruits and vegetables to your holiday plates, or swap out half of the dessert to a piece of fruit, half of the pie to a cup of vegetables.
High-fiber foods include:
- Starfruit (Carambola)
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Pinto beans
- Soybeans (edamame)
- Whole grains
- Bulgur wheat
- Brown rice
- Dark rye
- Wild rice
Tip#3. Choose lean protein.
You might already know that protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, but sometimes it contains excessive fat and calories. Lean protein refers to the protein achieving a perfect balance between nutrients and fat or cholesterol.
Here are some great selections:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Skinless poultry or chicken breast
- Lean cut of beef or pork
- White-fleshed fish of cod
Tip#4. Say NO to alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is highly associated with cravings and weight gain. If it’s unavoidable to drink alcohol in party, take the following tips to minimize its effect on weight gain:
- Set a drink limit, 2 drinks or fewer in a day for men, and 1 drink or less in a day for women.
- Have a few alcohol-free days each week.
- Delay your first drink, and drink slowly.
- Avoid drinking in rounds.
- Choose smaller size drinks.
- Swap to low or non-alcoholic alternatives (this can be a lower strength drink, or alcohol-free drinks like vodka lima & soda, rum & diet coke, gin & tonic, light beer OR low carb beer, mojito, mocktails, soda water, soft drinks, juices).
Tip#5. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
Just like alcohol, the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages may promote weight gain and obesity. But fortunately, there are many sugar-free drinks on offer.
- Sparkling water with fruit slices.
- Vegetable juice.
- Fruit-based tea mixed with seltzer.
- Plain yogurt smoothie with fruit.
Tip#6. Be careful of the dessert, and hidden sugar.
Dessert is everywhere and easy to touch during the holiday time, which causes an excessive intake of added sugar and too much weight gain. If you eat the meal already, try to skip the dessert. Or you can enjoy a small portion of dessert slowly to feel satiated. Perhaps it’s common sense that desserts are bad for health because of their high content of sugar but your attention should be paid to hidden sugar like refined grains or rice or any food made by them. Generally, desserts are favored because of sugar cravings that are held by most people. Once sugar cravings get stopped, the desire for desserts and foods with hidden sugar will instantly go down.
Easy-to-use tips for holiday dinner to get “slimmed”
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner usually contains roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. To gain low weight during Thanksgiving, the tips below should be followed:
Remove turkey skins.
Turkeys provide numerous healthy nutrients including lean proteins, vitamin B6 and anti-cancer properties. Remember to remove the skins before eating turkeys so that saturated fat will be reduced.
Don’t peel potatoes before mashing them.
Potato peels are a good source of potassium and vitamin B3, which is helpful to increase metabolism and help cells in generating useable energy. In addition, potato peels carry a lot of fiber which is beneficial for weight control. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep potato skins before getting them mashed. For a smooth taste, however, that may be not the optimal option.
Use healthy cream to replace traditional cream in mashed potatoes.
Cream is usually necessary for a smooth taste as mashed potatoes are being cooked. It sometimes occurs that too much cream tends to be added to the dish when a smoother or the best smoothest taste is called for. To stop mashed potatoes from leading you to gain excessive weight, use sugar-free or zero-calorie cream instead or use plain Greek yogurt that will also boost the smoothness.
Apart from roasted fowls or beef, and mashed potatoes, bakeries are always consumed more during Christmas like gingerbread cookies, fruitcake, or snickerdoodles that tend to easily gain weight. However, there are still some useful tips that can be used for cooking Christmas bakeries to control weight gain during the big holiday of the year.
Use whole wheat flour instead of refined wheat flour.
Compared with refined wheat flour, whole wheat flour contains extra fiber and low sugar, which is beneficial for weight loss and body health.
Use vanilla stevia instead of molasses.
Gingerbread cookies are tasty mostly because of the sweet taste that normally comes from molasses. Unfortunately, molasses provides so much sugar that makes cookies the optimal enemy for weight control. Up to now, stevia has been widely used in foods especially for diabetes since it both adds a sweet taste and no burden to health.
Limit butter to 1 tablespoon for snickerdoodles.
To get a perfect balance between flavor and calories or sugar intake, 1 tablespoon of butter is enough for snickerdoodles instead of the traditional 1 or 2 stickers.
What else can I do to beat weight gain during holidays?
Make a meal plan ahead.
If you have parties on the calendar, you can have a small meal that includes protein before leaving home as protein helps to balance blood sugar to avoid you heading to the dessert first. Or you can decide what and how much you’ll eat ahead of time, eat a lighter lunch at home.
Try intermittent fasting to limit the eating window.
Unlike ordinary days when 3 meals are strictly scheduled at fixing time. Holiday diets come every second, leading weight control increasingly difficult.
Practice mindful eating.
When holidays come, people are more likely to cram in a rush, which probably leads to overeating. Mindful eating can prevent this – try to take small bites, chew slowly, taste thoroughly, and swallow relaxedly. It would be better if you try to be mindful before choosing what to eat, for example, choose fruit salad instead of sugar cookies.
Be active with family and friends.
Sitting on the couch and watching TV could encourage you to eat more snacks or desserts without limitations. Try to be active in family affairs or group activities. Simple things like family walking and talking with friends can help you forget the food.
Get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can increase appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain. People who sleep six or fewer hours a night consume 385 more calories during the day, according to the Nurses’ Health Study. Getting enough sleep also helps reduce stress which is as important as sleep for weight management.
Manage your stress.
Always thinking about the gift, card, and party of holiday can make you feel stressed. The high-stress level could cause an increase in cortisol, a hormone that boosts your food intake and weight gain. Activities such as meditating, taking a hot shower, listening to music, or talking with friends can help you ease stress and refrain from craving foods.
Avoiding weight gain during holidays does not mean keeping away from the occasional feast and estranging yourself from joyousness with family and friends. Plan ahead and follow these tips, you can still enjoy the holiday and celebrations with the crowd.
If you eat more than you planned to at some point during the holidays unconsciously, don’t get yourself stuck in it. Just forget it and go back on track in the following days and keep up with your healthy lifestyle and eating habits.