What are the holiday weight gain facts?
Do we really gain 5 to 7 pounds as often reported by the media?
If true, what are the best strategies for side-stepping these seasonal snares?
What are the Holiday Weight Gain Facts?
First, the good news: The average holiday weight gain is about one or two pounds during the period from Thanksgiving to New Years, not the 5 to 7 pounds touted by the media.
The problem is that most of us don't lose the pounds we gain and they keep adding up, year after year, and decade after decade.
And unfortunately, those who are already overweight, like Weight Watchers, tend to gain more than the average, sometimes as much as 5 pounds.
The good news is that losing weight or at least not gaining any is absolutely possible!
You know you don't gain weight from a single holiday meal or even a few meals. You gain weight when a meal or day morphs into several days, and entire weeks, of celebratory no-holds-barred indulging.
Balance Holiday Decadence and Healthy Habits
The key is to balance holiday decadence with healthy habits the way the Skinny on Weight Loss Sisters do!
There are about 40 days from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day. Look at your calendar and mark the days that will involve celebratory meals. You'll have a party or get together here and there.
But, chances are good they'll still only be a small fraction of the entire season.
Stick to your usual routine the rest of the time.
Surround your holiday events on all sides with the healthy routines that support you - good food choices, exercise, getting enough rest, stress relief, taking care of yourself - and you'll wake up on New Year's happier, healthier and slimmer than ever!
My Best Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
My best strategies, those that work for me personally combine conventional wisdom with non-truadional approaches.
#1 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Wear Snug Form Fitting Clothes
Wear form-fitting clothes pants to dinner. You'll be more conscious of feeling full and naturally eat less.
Investigation at a Midwestern jail showed that prisoners gained between 20 and 25 pounds during their average stay of six months, even though they had opportunity to exercise, access to visitors and the food was unappetizing. When questioned after release, they pointed a finger at the loose jumpsuits they'd worn during their stay. Because these orange coveralls were so baggy most of them didn't realize they had progressively gained weight – about a pound a week – until they were released and had to try and squeeze back into their own clothes.
Evidence for the positive effect of tight-clothes comes from a survey of 322 dieters, more than half of whom reported that clothing snugness is a major way they gauge their progress.
#2 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Skip Breakfast
It's Christmas morning. Despite the fact that you'll be pigging out later on, many dietitians and weight loss experts recommend a nice, sensible breakfast, so you will be less hungry and more in control later at the dinner table.
But the truth is, you are going to overindulge whether you have breakfast or not, so why not skip it and save a few calories/points?
There's mounting evidence supporting the morning-fasting notion, which is why I've become an intermittent faster and regular breakfast skipper. In a yet-to-be-published Cornell University study of comparing breakfast skippers and eaters, skippers had eaten about 400 fewer calories overall.
#3 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Eat Soup
Soup is the perfect nourishing way to easily lighten up between indulgent holiday meals. And they're so much more satisfying to snuggle up with than salads or smoothies this time of year.
Many studies confirm that consuming soup improves satiety (the feeling of fullness) so that we eat less and take in fewer calories which is great for weight loss.
In addition to being comforting and delicious, soup is usually packed with nutrients including vegetables, lean proteins and quality carbs, and naturally low in fat.
I love to make a big batch on Sundays so we have plenty leftover for weekday lunches and dinners... or to freeze for meals on time-crunched days.
#4 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Exercise
Start the day off right and you’ll be more motivated to stick to your plan the rest of the day. It's a much healthier way to manage stress too.
#5 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Stay Hydrated
When you’re dehydrated, you often mistake thirst for hunger and overeat in an effort to feel better. See for yourself and guzzle that water during the holiday season.
I often can feel myself perk up within minutes of drinking a large glass.
#6 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Watch the Alcohol
We all know what happens when the wine begins to flow too freely. All of our best intentions fly out the window.
Get a late start. Have your first alcoholic beverage at 6 p.m. or later. Then alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass of water or club soda.
#7 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Become a Food Critic
Treat your meal like a fancy tasting not an all you can eat buffet.
Really savor what you are eating. Try to discern the various flavors and textures of the foods you’re enjoying. Is that ginger I taste in the sweet potatoes?
And only eat the things that you absolutely love. Ask yourself, "Is this worth it?" If not, skip it.
#8 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Use The 3-Bite Rule
When you really want to indulge, limit yourself to three bites. Why? The first bite is as good as you think it's going to be, flavorful and delicious. The second bite is also good but not as good as the first bite. By the third bite, the food isn't going to taste any better, so you might as well stop.
Thoroughly enjoy each of those small three bites. Savor them and make them last.
With the 3-Bite Rule you get 100% of the enjoyment, and 0% of the guilt.
While most people use this trick for dessert, it can be used for any food.
#9 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Walk after Dinner
Be the one to start new traditions. Gather the crew for an after dinner walk and set the example of good health!
#10 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Manage Leftovers
People often consume more than 3,000 calories at a big holiday meal and then again with leftovers the next day. Instead of keeping leftovers in the fridge, portion them out and toss them in the freezer. Or by disposable plastic containers and give away goodie packages to guests.
#11 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Research shows that when food is in our line-of-sight, we’re much more likely to eat it. So, get out of the kitchen, away from the buffet and find a fun game to play with the family or juicy conversation to have with a friend.
#12 Holiday Weight Loss Tip: Keep an Eye on the Scale or Your Skinny Pants
Regularly step onto the scale or your skinny pants. A little accountability can go a long way toward avoiding the seasonal denial that leads to lasting weight gain.
Use a few of these tips throughout the holiday season and become your own weight loss success story!
More Weight Loss Articles
- Why September is the Best Time to Join Weight Watchers
- Skinny on Weight Loss Sisters Holiday Advice
- Weight Watchers SmartPoints Struggle or Success
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