Q: I need some inspiration to help keep me from gaining weight during the holidays. Any ideas?
A: The temptations of the season often come not with glitter and sparkle, but with sugar, fat and calories.
Fortunately, weight gain isn’t inevitable. In fact, most studies suggest an average weight gain over the holidays of about 1 pound. This is good news, because most people assume it is five or 10 times that number.
Still, researchers warn that people tend to keep that extra pound instead of shedding it after the season is over. Those pounds can pile up over time, leading to significant weight gain.
Studies also indicate that people who are already overweight are more likely to gain five pounds or more during the holidays.
Perhaps the first thing to acknowledge is that this won’t be easy. Accepting that in advance will help you make a more serious effort. With that in mind, here are a few tips from the experts:
Unless you can already easily estimate and track calories of the special treats and meals you’re likely to face over the holidays, try a “mindful eating” approach instead. A recent Ohio State University study showed that this technique can help people with diabetes to significantly reduce their weight and blood sugar. To use this method, take a few minutes before eating to assess how hungry you are, and then make a conscious choice about how much you eat. When you’re full, you stop eating — no matter how tempting the food is.
Learn to say “no” politely: “It’s delicious, but if I eat one more bite, I’ll feel stuffed.” Don’t let yourself feel pressured into eating more than you want to.
Help yourself with portion control by using smaller plates, especially at a buffet. Fill it up with vegetables or lean protein, if possible, before you add other dishes. When eating out, ask for a take-home box to be delivered with your food, and put half of your meal in it before you take a bite.
Watch the alcohol. A recent study showed that American adults get an average of 5 percent of their calories from alcohol alone, amounting to about 100 calories a day. That could easily increase during the holidays. Set yourself a limit in advance, and follow any alcoholic beverage with a nice big glass of water.
Find ways to increase physical activity to account for extra calories. Stretch your 30-minute workout to 45 minutes. And, make it a point to always park far from the entry to work or the store, just to work those extra steps in.