It’s very well known that people gain weight during the holidays, between Thanksgiving and New Years. There are always a lot of holiday parties and extra food like Christmas cookies and candy. Many people will say that they gain between 5 and 10 pounds during the holidays, but the average weight gain is really only 1 pound. This is mostly for people who are at a healthy weight, but those who are already overweight, tend to gain more than one pound. Most people plan on losing their holiday weight gain after the new year, but, in reality, most people never lose that weight, and it eventually adds up over time.
So, what can you do to avoid gaining weight during the holidays?
- Plan your meals ahead of time. I always recommend making a grocery list. If you figure out what you are going to eat before you go shopping, you will be less likely to buy stuff you don’t need or stuff that is probably better for you not to eat.
- Prepare your meals ahead of time. That way you won’t be able to make any excuses in the morning when you are rushing out the door that you didn’t have time to make your lunch. And, I also recommend getting your breakfast ready and packing your lunch, including snacks, the night before. That way you won’t be as tempted to eat any food that is around the office, or to buy something from the vending machine.
- Keep your blood sugars stable. It keeps you from crashing and craving sugary treats. When eat too much sugar or when you don’t have enough glucose in your body, your body is going to crave carbohydrates, and, it’s likely that you will go for the sugary treats instead of fruits, vegetables, or other healthier options.You will also experience increased energy, which means no more grabbing snacks to give you that afternoon pick-me-up. When your blood sugars are stable, you will have a consistent amount of glucose in your body which is what your body uses for fuel, so you will have more energy, and won’t fall asleep at your desk. You can stabilize your blood sugars by:
- eating low glycemic foods. This means eating foods that are lower on the glycemic index, which ranks foods on how quickly they convert to glucose in your body. The ones with a higher index cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Foods such as potatoes, white bread, white rice, and sugar have a higher glycemic index. Foods such as non-starchy vegetables, brown rice, barley, whole grain bread, rolled oats, nuts and seeds, meats, beans, most fruits and most dairy products are on the lower end of the glycemic index.
- eating 6 small meals, or 3 meals with 2 mini snacks, throughout the day. This will keep you from getting hungry and craving sweet treats. If you don’t have time to eat snacks, just make sure that you are eating all 3 meals and not skipping meals.
- making sure that you start every day with a healthy breakfast, preferably within one hour of waking up. When you skip breakfast, it increases the production of stress hormones and starts to break down muscle to use for energy. It also messes with your blood sugar balance for the rest of the day. If you aren’t hungry for breakfast when you wake up, this usually is an indication that your stress hormones are not functioning correctly, or that your digestion is slow. Ideally, breakfast should contain some protein, a healthy fat and a good source of carbohydrate.
These are just a few of the suggestions that I have. I will be discussing it more in depth in a webinar later this week. Although most people have a goal of not gaining weight during the holidays, it’s also important not to deprive yourself. If you deprive yourself, you are going to still want whatever it was you deprived yourself of, and are more likely to binge later, or eat more of other foods while trying to replace that craving. In my webinar, I will discuss how you can make smart choices when eating something you consider “bad” and I will give my other recommendations on what you can do to eat healthy during the holidays to avoid gaining weight. If you would like to sign up for the webinar, click here.