Based on research conducted by Stanford University’s BeWell program, Americans on average gain one pound per year during the holidays.
While that may seem minimal, it can really add up over time and lead to more serious health problems in the future, such as diabetes and heart disease.
According to a survey conducted by Healthline, 60-65 percent of respondents admitted to feeling stressed over the holidays. Stress is a big, and sometimes overlooked, culprit in weight gain because it can lead to overeating.
Following are three simple tips for staying healthy during the holidays and avoiding weight gain.
Practice portion control
The holidays are the perfect time of year to enjoy good food with family and friends, and no one is suggesting that you deprive yourself of enjoyment. However, practicing portion control can go a long way in not overeating at each holiday gathering.
Balance your plate with a reasonable helping of proteins, fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and a little dessert. Avoid taking a second helping, and if you’re eating out at a restaurant, only eat half of the food on your plate and ask for the rest to be wrapped to take home.
You can also eat a nutritious snack before heading to a holiday party so that you’ll eat less when you get there. If you have multiple parties in one week, perhaps eat only dessert at one or two gatherings and not the rest.
Little adjustments can make a big difference if you stay committed to them.
Work out 3 times a week
Given that the holidays are so busy and you may not have as much time to exercise, interval training workouts are the ideal option – they’re efficient, effective and can help you burn off some of that holiday stress.
Interval workouts combine cardio, plyometrics, strength training and flexibility work all in one workout, and it can all be done in as little as 20-30 minutes. Interval training also enables you to work multiple muscle groups at once, helps you build muscle mass and speeds up your metabolism so that you’re able to burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re sleeping. This is a great way to ward off holiday weight gain.
For quick, at-home workouts, check out my interval training videos on my Passion Fit YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/PassionFitLLC.
Step on a scale weekly
Many people don’t like to use a scale to manage their weight because it can be daunting and depressing if you don’t like the number you see. However, it might help to think of it as arming yourself with data. The more aware you are of the number on the scale, the more likely you are to make healthier choices during the holidays and beyond. Weekly check-ins allow you to stay on track so that extra pounds don’t sneak up on you, but they can be more manageable than daily checks so that you aren’t obsessing about the number constantly. Knowledge is power – and can help you manage your weight overall.
Check with your doctor if you have any health or dietary restrictions. The holidays are meant to be enjoyable, so try these ideas to beat stress, avoid weight gain, stay healthy and, most importantly, find joy with your loved ones during this glorious time of year.
Reena Vokoun is owner of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit. For more information, visit passionfit.com.