Tis the season… to stay on top of your health goals
Yep, it’s that time of the year again, and everyone is geared up for the holidays, Christmas, family, fun, sharing and enjoying delicious food. What would the holidays be without great food?
And there is zero shame when it comes to letting loose and enjoying yourself. In fact, it might be kinder to your mental health to just accept that you might gain a kg or two, and that’s just fine. Some people go completely crazy and gain much, much more than this. It isn’t fun to start the new year off weighing 8 – 10 kg more.
So, if you are trying to stay on top of your health goals and want to at least limit holiday weight gain, then read on.
The good news is, you can take control and manage your holiday weight gain. Life isn’t only about great food and drink; it’s also about being healthy, living life to the fullest and enjoying who you are.
Let’s jump on it because here are some amazing ways to control holiday weight gain.
#1 Stay active
One of the most significant parts of managing weight and even losing weight is to be active. Now we get that it’s not always possible to go according to an exercise schedule, but we also know that staying active is possible, if you just do some adjusting in your lifestyle.
- Ways you could stay active includes – Taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Moving your body helps to burn calories.
- You can also opt to cycle your bicycle to work if you live closer – You could alternate using your car some days and your bicycle on other days.
- Walk your dog – If you usually get a dog walker to help walk your dog, perhaps now would be better for you to take your dogs for a walk instead.
- Swim regularly- Swimming plays a positive role in health and wellness. Since the water adds to that feeling of resistance, you’ll be staying active and building stronger muscles.
#2 Don’t practice distracted eating
When eating, it’s best to practice mindfulness. Being mindful when you eat means you’re going to savour every bite and flavour. You’ll enjoy your food without rushing it. On the other hand, if you are distracted while eating, such as watching TV, it’s easy to gobble your food unintentionally.
Refrain from eating whilst watching a screen. At the same time, this is easier said than done for some people since a lunch break allows us to check emails and social media. Still, reserve time solely for mindful eating.
Another way to combat holiday weight gain through rest is avoiding large meals just before bedtime. It’s hard for the body to process food when you’re full and trying to sleep simultaneously.
#3 Get enough rest
Our bodies need rest to process functions, repair tissue, metabolize chemicals and gain renewed strength. When we don’t get enough sleep, it takes a toll on our immune system and our energy levels.
Sleep deprivation can also increase the ghrelin hormone that tells us we’re hungry, and ultimately slow down the body’s metabolism.
Try to refrain from looking at screens at least an hour or two before turning in for the night. The blue light in screens is interpreted as daylight by our brain and thus it makes it harder to wind down and fall asleep.
#4 Eat more protein
Protein plays an essential part in our diet, and it also helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer. Proteins over carbohydrates is a better option since protein is also known to increase satiety hormones, and thus, we feel sustained or fuller for longer. Festive weight gain can happen when you are snacking more instead of eating protein-rich and balanced meals.
Proteins don’t have to be animal-based, but lean meats work well for those who eat meat including fish and chicken.
Other protein sources are found in seeds, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, soy, potatoes and tofu, to name a few.
An average recommended amount of protein for women is around 50 grams, and for men, it is 60 grams. If you workout a lot, you may need more! You can include protein in your various main meals of the day, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Furthermore, balance your protein meals with vegetables and fruit for those nutrients and vitamins as well as fibre.
#5 Drink more water
A simple thing as drinking water while you’re eating can help fill the spaces so that you eat a bit less than you would if you didn’t. Water will also help you manage holiday weight gain because staying hydrated will prevent the false sense of feeling hungry when you’re actually thirsty.
To differentiate between the two is that if you are hungry even after drinking enough water, then you’re probably truly hungry. When people assume they are hungry based on the body’s signal with a seeming hunger pang, they end up eating more calories and drinking less water. Dehydration may also cause nausea, headache, dizziness, sluggish feeling, dry eyes and an increased heart rate.
Try a water drinking app to help you monitor how much water you’ve had for the day. You can also opt for a large water bottle with reading measurements on it. With measurements and readings, you’re able to monitor how much water you’ve had manually.
#6 Watch out for liquid calories
What are liquid calories? Simply put, they are energy-dense drink options such as sodas, alcohol and their mixers, drinking yoghurt, fruit juice (rather eat the real fruit!) and sugar-laden speciality coffees.
The problem with drinking such calorie-dense drinks is that they don’t fill you! You can drink three sodas throughout the day and think nothing of it, yet the calories in those three drinks add up to a decent-sized meal. You can add substantial calories to your day without even realising it, and before you know it, you’re a kg or two heavier.
It’s just not worth it!
Rather save those type of drinks for Christmas day and New Years eve only. Don’t let them become an everyday or every second day “treat”. Apart from all the extra calories, the sugar and additives are seriously and cause inflammation within the body.
To cut out the bad liquid calories, rather replace the bad ones with iced tea, herbal tea, ice coffee and plain water. You can spruce your plain water with ice and some strawberry, lemon, fresh mint or cucumber.
#7 Keep the stress level low
Studies have found that high-stress levels influence weight gain in men and women. Some stress factors that lead to higher body mass through consuming more calories resulted from demanding jobs, financial struggles, and mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
Other studies also noted an increase in weight gain amongst women who stressed about personal conditions like family relationships and so forth. Unlike women gaining weight due to emotional life stressors, men did not gain weight influenced by this type of stress.
#8 Get more fibre
Fibre is not something we give much thought to, but it’s essential for digestive health. With enough fibre in your diet, you’ll enjoy many benefits, including being regular, feeling full for longer and perhaps faster-healing thanks to a strong immune system.
Here are some benefits of getting more fibre:
1. Fibre is important for your gut health
2. It helps to maintain a healthy weight
3. Eating fibre can help you feel full, so it’s easier to avoid overeating
4. Fibre may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
5. Fiber-rich foods are often high in vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health
6. Eating more fibre could also lower blood sugar levels, which means less insulin resistance (the inability to use insulin properly)
Increase the fibre content of your diet by adding in
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Baked potato with skin
#9 Go easy on taste-testing
Cooking for others can be demanding, and you always want to get these special dishes perfectly right. “Taste-testing” is beneficial, but minimizing the tasting factor is good if you want to avoid packing on the calories. It’s incredible just how many calories can pile on through a series of taste-testing.
Don’t cook when you’re hungry because this will lead to tasting episodes that are a bit extravagant. Make sure you’ve eaten well before cooking your food for your guests.
#10 Slow down on the dessert
Who doesn’t like a delicious desert over in the holidays? When it comes to the holidays, you can expect sweet treats of all sorts, from decorative cakes and scrumptious puddings to delicious pastries, festive biscuits and lots more.
But this is a disaster if you’re trying to avoid festive weight gain. While it may seem super-tempting to have them all, instead limit how many desserts you have around the festive season.
You could limit your treats to only your favourites while saying no to the others. In this way, you’ll cut out the excessive sugar intake.
Bonus tips to curb festive weight gain
- Eat from a smaller plate – You know how it goes with the all-you-can-eat buffets and endless feasts over the holidays. Use a smaller plate to reduce the portions and lower the risk of overeating.
- Stick to your regular mealtimes – It’s a good idea to keep to your mealtimes and prevent eating in-between. Eating all day will quickly increase weight gain in a short period.
- Check out the food labels – It may seem like an unnecessary effort, but having a glance at the food labels will give you insights to the contents. In this way, you’ll know what you’re eating.
- Get your steps in – The ideal amount of steps to take is 7 to 10 thousand steps a day. Being more active in general will go a long way to staying fit and trim this festive season.
Closing thoughts about being able to avoid festive weight gain
While it can seem complicated to see the bigger picture if you’ve just started on your mission to stop holiday weight gain, it isn’t impossible. Eating in moderation is one of the best things you can do to help avoid unnecessary kilos from piling on.
In summary, if you want to avoid holiday weight gain this season, stick with the above tips. Stay active by walking or going on a bike ride after dinner rather than sitting around and watching TV. Eat slowly so your stomach can tell your brain that it’s full before you overeat. Make sure not to skip breakfast! Finally, be mindful of what goes into your food—the less processed it is, the better for both physical and mental health.
The last few weeks leading up to Christmas are likely one of the most hectic times in our lives; however, taking these steps will make them much more bearable without adding pounds in return!