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9 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

December 15, 2015

Even after stuffing our faces with turkey on Thanksgiving and delighting in Christmas ham, the average American only gains one pound during the holidays.

I said average.

Which means that some people will gain more weight than that and others will gain less. No one wants to be in the first group, but many of us aren’t as mindful about what we put on our plates during the holidays. Not paying attention and overindulging can lead to weight gain. If your goal is to stay fit this December, follow these nine tips for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Watch the sweets

Gift baskets filled with pies, cookies and other desserts are common holiday gifts, but you can graciously decline them, exercise portion control, share them with a friend or neighbor, or take them to work to cut the calorie count.

Cut back between Thanksgiving and New Year’s

Be aware of calories at holiday celebrations, and the days in between. Be cautious of extra calories sneaking in from office parties and gatherings. Thanksgiving dinner alone can pack on a whopping 1000 calories. To make this meal more heart-healthy, choose turkey breast without the skin, load up on vegetables and only take small servings of high calorie items like casseroles and desserts. Wait 20 minutes before taking second portions to avoid overeating.

Pre-plan for holiday parties

Holiday parties are a minefield when it comes to staying healthy. To avoid being a glutton, eat before the party, bring something healthy with you or keep a low calorie drink in your hand. Talk more and eat less, but even more effective: stand far away from the food table, use the smallest plate you can and avoid second helpings.

Choose beverages wisely

Did you know that one cup of eggnog is 360 calories? Or that one tall peppermint mocha is 410 calories? That’s about as much as a small meal. Holiday beverages can really pack on the calories before you realize it.

Instead of gulping sweet, high-calorie drinks, opt for low-sugar alternatives, order mixed drinks with diet soda or soda water or try a wine spritzer, which is about 80 calories per serving. To get your caffeine without all the calories, order a “skinny” coffee with skim milk.

Offer healthy choices when entertaining at home

Limit the amount of calorie-laden foods and desserts around your home. If there’s no temptation to eat unhealthy, you won’t do it.

Make time for exercise

I get it. Everyone is so busy this time of year. Still, don’t let the holiday rush interrupt your exercise routine. Exercise is a great way to de-stress and even as little as 30 minutes is beneficial for your mind, body and spirit.

Get enough rest

Too little sleep disturbs hormones that control appetite. Try to get seven to eight hours each night.

Be honest with yourself

Many of us succumb to the holidays and overindulge just because it’s acceptable during this time of year. Don’t blame the holidays for weight gain. Choices make the difference, so select healthier options — or eat less of your holiday goodies — whenever possible.

Avoid waiting until January

92 percent of people break their New Year’s resolutions, so waiting until January won’t help you shift the number on the scale. Don’t wait until 2016 to make lifestyle changes that will improve your overall health.

Stay healthy and enjoy this special time of year. Happy holidays!