The holidays are upon us … with Halloween quickly approaching and Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve ahead of us, the recipe for weight gain is set.
For many people, a gain of 5 to 10 pounds is common during the holidays. However, getting the weight off can be a challenge. Here are 10 steps to prevent weight gain this year.
1. Drink water – It has zero calories and can prevent mindless eating. Water has many benefits. We need water to feel hydrated, which may keep sleepiness at bay. If we drink water before meals, we will also feel less hungry and be able to enjoy the meal before us.
2. Don’t deprive yourself. Just have three bites instead of three pieces of pie. Studies show that the more deprived a person feels, the more preoccupied they become with food. If you allow yourself to have a few bites instead of depriving yourself, you will feel less like eating the whole pie later – when no one is looking.
3. Increase your exercise time by 10 to 20 minutes – either all at once or throughout your day. According to the American College of Sports medicine you can get your exercise in 10-minute segments of time and it is just as effective as if you exercise for a full 30 minutes. During the holidays it is hard to fit a block of exercise time into a busy schedule, but we can all find 10 minutes to walk, dance, or jump around.
4. Eat regular meals. During the holidays it is often tempting to skip meals. However, if you eat regular meals, you allow your body to maintain a consistent blood sugar level. It is important to plan your meals and snacks throughout the day. Starving yourself all day and then eating all evening is not an effective plan for weight maintenance. It has also been shown that people who eat breakfast fare better throughout the day than people who do not.
5. Have a healthy snack before a holiday dinner so you don’t eat so much. Snacks have gotten a bad rap for ruining appetites, but it’s a charge that is undeserved. Snacks can actually help curb your appetite so that you do not overeat during a meal or dinner party. The right kind of snack, such as a handful of walnuts or almonds, can also regulate blood sugar and keep hunger pangs at bay.
6. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. Studies have proven a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. People who don’t get enough sleep often have a challenge curbing feelings of hunger. According to a University of Chicago study, leptin, the hormone that tells the brain there is no need for food decreased 18 percent in people who sleep only four nights for two nights. These same people had the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger, increase by 28 percent.
7. Plan what and how much you will eat at parties – choose to take a small piece of cake, but skip the chips. If you have a general plan, you will be able to enjoy the party and meet your self-imposed expectations and goals. You will feel in control before, during and after the event.
8. Find five slimming, healthy recipes to take to pot-luck holiday dinners. Pot luck dinners, especially holiday pot luck dinners, can be a dangerous place if you are trying to lose or maintain weight. The buffet is usually loaded with delicious comfort food because cooks always bring their best to pot luck functions. With a little planning and creativity, you can make an addition to the buffet that tastes good and is healthy. When in doubt, bring grapes, raw vegetables and low-calorie dip, or other healthful dish. You know that you will have something to eat that is good and good for you.
9. If you blow your plan, get back on track as soon as possible. Each day is a gift. If you veered off track at the family gathering on Thursday, there is no reason for you not to get back to your goals on Friday. Don’t chastise yourself psychologically; it is counter-productive.
10. Remember: Everything in moderation. Moderation is the key to not feeling deprived and keeping yourself in balance. Whether it pertains to your exercise program, your healthy eating plan or any other activities, making small, but consistent adjustments will help you stay on track, feel better and perform at your best.