Ready or Not, the Holidays are Here!

As we enter the holiday season, it is not uncommon to toss our attempts at healthy eating aside. According to research, about ½ of Americans will give in to the temptation of holiday food. Don’t be that statistic. With some easy guidelines, you can avoid holiday weight gain.

  1. Be active with family and friends: Get up and move. Any kind of physical activity can help take your mind off food.  
  2. Snack wisely: During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be readily available. Have fruit and veggies ready and waiting. 
  3. Watch your portion sizes: When the holidays arrive, it can be easy to overload your plate. Watch portion sizes, read food labels, and refer to recommended serving sizes listed on recipes. 
  4. Practice mindful eating: People are often in a rush during the holiday season, which frequently leads to multitasking during meals. Try to eat slowly to recognize your body’s fullness signals to consume fewer calories.
  5. Get plenty of sleep: Individuals who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories, and exercise less. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to alterations in the circadian rhythm and a slower metabolism.  
  6. Control your stress levels: Stressed individuals commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that has been linked to greater food intake and weight gain. Additionally, a stressful lifestyle can contribute to food cravings and poor dietary habits. 
  7. Keep meals balanced with protein: For balance and satisfaction, try to include some protein with every meal. This Black Bean Quinoa Salad is a perfect side or a protein-rich main dish. This Mexican inspired recipe is also perfect for a vegetarian taco filling.  
  8. Focus on fiber: Fiber can induce fullness, helping to reduce total intake. Enjoy this Sweet Potato, Kale, and Farro Salad with 5 grams of fiber per serving.  
  9. Cut back on taste-testing: When cooking and baking during the holiday season, taste testing can easily contribute to weight gain. Unfortunately, cookie crumbs do count! 
  10. Bring a healthy dish to share: For “safe” food options, bring a healthy dish to share, like this Mixed Vegetable Casserole. Made with eggplant, squash and portobello mushrooms, this healthy side complements any chicken, fish, or meat dish. 
  11. Limit your dessert intake: Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. Instead of eating every treat in sight, just focus on your favorites and ditch the rest. 
  12. Limit liquid calories: During the holidays, alcohol, soda, and other calorie-rich beverages can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet. Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain. 
  13. Use a smaller plate: Dinner parties and potlucks are common during the holiday season. To cut back on intake, eat from a smaller plate when this is an option. 
  14. Modify your recipes: High-calorie homemade goods are a primary cause of weight gain during the holidays. Try these low-carb Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups for a healthy modification of the traditional version.  
  15. Weigh yourself regularly: Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays can remind you of your weight goals, allowing you to act sooner rather than later. 
  16. Use the buddy system: Many people report success with their weight goals when they have a partner to keep them in check. 
  17. Avoid processed foods: Processed holiday foods, while quick and easy, often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that take a toll on your weight.  
  18. Plan ahead: Planning ahead can go a long way towards preventing holiday weight gain. 
  19. Skip seconds: Holiday meals can be large with multiple food options. Focus on those foods that are special. And, if you want seconds, “doggie bags” are a perfect option.  
  20. Draw the line: During the holidays many people have an “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality. It is important to enjoy the season and all the holiday foods . . . just not all on the same day!  

The bottom line: While staying on top of your nutrition goals can feel daunting during the holiday season, combining a few of the above tips and tricks can help keep you healthy and happy during this time of year. 

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