10 Dietitian Tips to Maintain Your Weight Through the Holidays
While many assume those decadent holiday dishes will translate into 5-7 additional pounds over the holidays, according to the National Institutes of Health, the average American gains a mere 0.8 pounds of weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. While this one-pound gain is vastly less than most people anticipate, it is certainly nothing to ignore. Just think about how difficult it can be to lose those final few pounds and how easy it is to pack them on throughout the rest of the year?
I certainly don't want to prevent you from splurging on your favorite holiday treats, but I do want to suggest that you are actually savoring those that you choose. So rather than trying to lose weight over the holidays, a goal that may create more strife than it is worth, simply aim to maintain the weight you have without gaining any more. Read on for a few of my favorite tips to help you do just that!
- Eat like a kid. Rather than gleefully scooping a bit of everything onto your plate, revert to your preschool days and be picky. If something doesn’t amaze your tastebuds, ignore it or leave it on your plate. Knowing that a single scoop of cornbread stuffing may set you back 500 calories is reason enough to think before you dish.
- Watch where you stand. If you are at a holiday gathering, make yourself at home AWAY from the buffet of goodies. Grab your sparkling water with lime, and find a nice spot in another room.
- Get social. You may believe you already know the latest news as you just checked in on Facebook hours before, but isn’t the primary reason you are with friend and family over the holidays to socialize? Ask grandma what she did to perfect her famous apple pie, talk to your cousin about how her littlest addition is doing, or find out what your friends are wishing for from Santa. Either way, it will keep you happy, entertained, and distracted from the bounty of cookies nearby.
- Eat before the feast. Far too many people tend to skip breakfast and lunch in the hopes of saving their calories for the big holiday feast, but this tactic doesn't actually help. The latest research from Cornell University shows that those who do so end up eating 47% more calories from fattier options than healthier appetizers or sides. Rather than starving yourself, maintain a regular eating pattern including breakfast as well as small, protein rich snacks to help tide you over.
- Survey the premises. Just as I encourage you to be picky about the foods you actually eat, be picky about what foods even make it onto your plate. Before you fill your appetizer or dinner plate, survey the options. Only choose those foods that you have truly been looking forward to and supplement them with small sides of some of the healthier dishes such as steamed or fresh vegetables and shrimp cocktail.
- Get skinny. Your cocktail glass that is. By opting for a tall, skinny glass over a short, stubby glass, you will feel as though you are getting more, thereby helping you to feel satisfied with fewer glasses. When a single serving of holiday nog can set you back 400 calories, the small choice of a smaller glass will save you plenty, while still enabling you to satisfy your holiday craving.
- Shrink your plate. Oh, the same goes for your plates – the smaller the better. We all want a full plate as our eyes are typically bigger than our stomach. So, by choosing a smaller plate, we will be able to fill it up at a fraction of the calories found on the larger versions.
- Sip water. Often we confuse hunger for thirst, so by staying hydrated we can stave off extra calories simply by satisfying our false hunger pains with fluid. Sip on water, sparkling water, or club soda, with a lime twist and perhaps a splash of cranberry juice for a festive twist.
- Play! Anything you can do to move your body outside of sitting on the couch cheering for your favorite football team will help to spur your metabolism and burn more calories. Play touch football out back with the kids, go for a walk around the block with the ladies, or simply stand up and move around inside (I’m sure your host would love help with the dishes!) to burn a bit more.
- Aim for seven. Throughout the day aim to sneak in 7 servings of fruits and vegetables as the water and fiber packed inside will help you feel full on less, while also preventing you from feeling the need to nosh mindlessly on sugary treats later on. Just be careful when it comes to the dips offered at holiday fetes – a mere 2 tablespoons of spinach dip can set you back 200 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 200 milligrams of sodium – negating much of the point of those light produce options.
As you can see with a few smart choices, you can easily save yourself from gaining even the estimated 0.8 pounds this holiday season. By staying hydrated, filling up on veggies, and moving your body, you will surely be able to rein in the New Year dancing in your skinny jeans.