Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Have you been here―January second rolls around and you step on the scale and cringe when you discover that you gained seven pounds over the holidays? Yup, me too!
It’s a hard maintain discipline this time of year. Our holiday food traditions are full of emotion and nostalgia. That tiny 150 calorie cookie is jam-packed with memories. The memories make it easy to justify one more bite. Besides, it’s only once a year, right?Our holiday food traditions are full of emotion and nostalgia. Click To Tweet
For those of us living in cold climates, we have the added struggle of our bodies craving warm, rich, hearty, calorie-dense, comfort food. There are a number of biological reasons for these cravings. Nevertheless, between our biology and emotions, it can feel like the cards are stacked against us.
But I believe that it is possible to enjoy the holidays without having to buy larger clothes in the new year. And it’s easier than you might think.
I’m not suggesting that you deny yourself grandma’s stuffing or mom’s cookies. I’m suggesting that you make tiny changes that allow you to enjoy special treats without overdoing it.
Over the years I’ve discovered some tricks that allow me to enjoy sweet treats while maintaining my weight and fitness goals. Here are 13 of my favorite ways to enjoy the holidays responsibly.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to use all of them to reap the rewards. Start by selecting one or two that you know you can stick to. When those tips become habits, select one more. Before you know it, you’ll be confident that you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods without overdoing it.
13 Simple Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1 – Workout before you go.
A good workout will give you more room in your calorie budget. Not only that, you’ll feel more confident. When I feel confident, I make better choices than if I’m having a day where I feel fat and frumpy. Scheduling a workout helps build the foundation for success.
Many cities have races and runs on holidays, like this one. These make wonderful holiday traditions that aren’t food centered.
2 – Wear form-fitting clothes.
Leave your sweatpants at the gym. When you head out to holiday parties, wear nice, form-fitting clothes. You’ll be less likely to overindulge when you’re showing off your svelte figure.You’ll be less likely to overindulge when you’re showing off your svelte figure. Click To Tweet
3 – Eat before you go.
If you know that you’ll be tempted by unhealthy party food, be sure and eat a full meal before you go. Make sure it’s filling and nutritious to ensure your cravings don’t get the best of you.
4 – Bring a healthy dish to share.
When you bring your own food, you know that you’ll have something to snack on. We like to bring healthy sides and snacks to share and they’re always a hit. We can only eat so many cookies before our bodies start screaming for veggies.We can only eat so many cookies before our bodies start screaming for veggies. Click To Tweet
5 – Use small plates.
Grab the smallest plate available knowing that you can go back to the buffet again. It’s a great way to sample everything without stuffing yourself. This tactic also allows you to take breaks and decreases the chance that you’ll overeat.
6 – Don’t sit next to the food.
Grab your food and go. I learned this lesson the hard way a few Christmases ago. As we sat around the table and shared some appetizers before dinner, I lost track of how much I was actually eating. I paid for it soon after with a super-sized belly ache. Grab a small plate and get up and mingle.
7 – Drink more water.
Try to drink only water and a lot of it. It’s not uncommon to feel hungry when we’re actually dehydrated. Proper hydration will help keep you away from the buffet. Water is always the healthiest option, so drink up.
*** Bonus Tip ***
I bring a refillable water bottle everywhere I go. It ensures I have something to sip on if water isn’t served. Water bottles are also huge money savers when traveling. If you don’t have one, add it to your holiday wish list. I use one like this for my everyday use. These filter bottles are great for travel.
8 – Take it easy on the alcohol.
This is my least favorite tip. 😉 I’m a big fan of wine and craft beer, but they pack a serious caloric punch. A glass of red wine will set you back 150 calories and an IPA is around 200. Don’t even think about those sweet mixed drinks. Just one cup of eggnog will cost you 400 big ones. Not to mention, alcohol lowers our inhibitions and causes us to eat more.
Moderation is key. If you do drink, work in tip seven. Start with water and have more water between each alcoholic drink.
9 – Be strategic about what you splurge on.
Survey the buffet table and strategically decide which foods will provide the most enjoyment. Don’t waste calories on foods you only moderately enjoy. Use your calories wisely and go for the items that bring you the most holiday cheer.Survey the buffet table and strategically decide which foods will provide the most enjoyment. Click To Tweet
10 – Fill up on veggies.
I love vegetables. They’re low calorie and high nutrition. Veggies are a great way to fill up without packing on the pounds. Match each indulgence with a healthier alternative. Your skinny jeans will thank you.
11 – Just say no.
Plan your splurges and just say no the rest of the time. Think about which parties will have your favorite indulgences and look forward to enjoying them. Resist the temptation to splurge on anything outside of this plan.
This can be difficult if you work in an office where there’s always a potluck or birthday cake. Get in the habit of always saying no, or create other rules. For example, I never eat cake unless it’s chocolate.
12 – Keep talking.
Most people can’t talk and eat at the same time, and those who can shouldn’t. Work your way around the room and get to know someone new. Ask them questions and engage. While you’re not stuffing your face, you might make a new friend.
13 – Bring an accountability partner.
I know, I know, self-control can be hard. Especially if it’s an emotional or nostalgic event. No one said you have to go it alone. Bring someone with you who has the same health and fitness goals so you can hold each other accountable.
I am blessed to have this accountability with my husband, Jer. Together we plan healthy dishes to bring and share. I also have someone to split my chocolate cake with.
Living a life of freedom means building a solid foundation in every area of your life. Health is one of the most important parts of that foundation. Choosing to be proactive and strategic during the holidays, means you won’t have to pay for it later.Freedom comes from making good choices all of the time, especially during the holidays. Click To Tweet
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. I hope they are filled with joy, good health, and a few sweet treats.
What tips do you have for avoiding holiday weight gain?
Share in the comments below.