Indulging and gaining weight over the holiday season is kind of like going into debt. It’s wonderful to experience the immediate gratification that many high-fat, high-sugar, carb-dense holiday foods have to offer, but the pleasure doesn’t last very long. And then it can take months for some people to recover physically from the weight gain and other negative effects of unhealthy eating and drinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to just avoid the holiday weight gain in the first place, without sacrificing your fun?
According to this recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, chronic holiday weight gain, and slow recovery time, are a reality for most Americans and people all around the world. But you don’t have to be a part of the statistics. Even though it is so close to Christmas, and you may feel like any hope for managing your weight is lost, there is a lot you can do between now and January 1st to give your body a healthy, helping hand.
Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
- Burn Calories Daily. All you need is about 30 minutes of brisk activity to keep that metabolism pumping. If you already have a daily workout, great! Keep it on the calendar. If not, just try to get anything in that will burn some calories. Or do things in addition to your dailyexercise routine. You can plan activities like walks, hikes, bicycle rides, and dances with family and friends. The extra calorie burning can really help control your weight – and you’ll enjoy some wonderful times together. In the very least, jump some rope in your living room, walk to the store instead of driving, take public transportation to holiday parties, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and park a few blocks from the restaurant instead of using the valet parking. You can fit activity into your day if you give it some thought and make a plan.
- Re-gift Unwanted Treats. Does the holiday season feel like an onslaught of sugar and refined carbohydrates disguised as gifts? I say re-gift those suckers like a hot potato! Imagine how many gifts you can automatically create by ditching that feeling of obligation to eat every little holiday treat given to you. Take them to parties as an offering, use them up at potlucks, give them to the mail man, take them to your local bank branch. But whatever you do, stop thinking you have to eat it all. The combination of sugar, fat, and refined flour, which is what most of those treats are comprised of, is so nutritionally bankrupt it literally goes right to your thighs when you eat it, because your body doesn’t know what else to do with it. So, give your body a chance by enjoying gifted treats in moderation, and then sharing most of them with the rest of the world.
- Eat Something Before You Go to the Party. Before you head out to the traditional feast or party, fill up on nutrient dense, low calorie foods like fresh vegetables and whole fresh fruit. If you want to feel a little fuller, add some healthy fat and good fiber, found in seeds like chia, hempseed, and pumpkinseeds.
- Switch out the Alcohol for Kombucha. Most people like to show up to a celebration with a bottle of something. In most cases the something is usually an alcoholic spirit, wine, or champagne. You can still do this and also sneakily provide yourself with a healthy, weight management supporting alternative to alcohol. Pick up a few bottles of Kombucha on your way to the party. Some stores even have well packaged larger bottles. Tie a bow around it, bring an extra bottle for yourself, and you just created an alcohol-free, healthy digestion-supporting treat to keep your champagne flute full all evening.
- Keep Your Home Supportive. During the holiday season, you will encounter plenty of unhealthy, rich, caloric dense, and nutritionally insufficient foods without having to try. So, make your home a supportive, nutritionally wealthy, healing safe haven. If you have clean, whole, minimally processed foods, like the ones we teach about in the Whole, Clean & Green community, available for your regular meals, the stuff you eat at parties and on the go will have a lower overall impact on your weight and your health. Leave the weight gain fuel to Starbucks and party hosts, and stock your home with weight- loss supporting, healthy foods.
- Eat a Christmas Tree. Actually, don’t eat a Christmas tree literally, but do fill your holiday buffet plate with all the colors of a Christmas tree. Your main color should be deep green, and leafy, followed by golds and yellows of pumpkin, tubers, and squash, reds of bell peppers and pomegranates, and purple and blues from cabbage, blueberries, and other dark colored fruits. If you fill your plate with mostly vibrant, colorful fruits and vegetables, you are putting your body on the fast track of positive, healthy weight supporting momentum. Remember, spinach actually has more protein per calorie than meat. In fact, it is almost scientifically impossible to “overeat” salads and fresh vegetables. It is that nutrient rich, low calorie food that is going to help keep you from becoming a holiday weight gain statistic. So load up on the good stuff and make your plate into a Christmas tree.
- Keep a Healthy Snack Bag With You. We have all been to one of those parties where you look at the food buffet and say to yourself, “Is this seriously all there is?” Sometimes there is no getting around bad nutrition at a party. But you can prepare yourself. One of the most basic skills my clients learn is how to keep the foods that support them within arm’s reach at all times. This can be so simple during the holidays. Make up portable baggies of mixed raw nuts, seeds, a little dried fruit, unsweetened coconut flakes, cacao nibs, or just pick up some healthy whole food nutrition bars at the store. Keep them on hand for those times you are feeling peckish or crazed, or for when you forget to eat a good meal.
- Re-set Your Body Early in 2017. It is a reality that avoiding weight gain during the holidays can be very difficult for most people. Its probably likely that despite your best effort, you may gain some unwanted pounds during the holiday season. Rather than beat yourself up and obligate yourself to a doomed New Years resolution or gym commitment, make a plan to give yourself a simple, effective, meaningful metabolism reset. We are leading a huge group cleanse starting on January 9th, proven to help you shed unwanted pounds over just 10 days, and backed-up by a month of healthy meal plans and professional nutrition coaching and support. You can learn more about that here!
Enjoy your healthy happy holiday and leave a comment to tell me how it went for you! I can’t wait to hear from you.