It’s that time of year again. Days and nights filled with festivities, family, and food. A lot of food. And let’s not forget those holiday-inspired coffees and cocktails that sneak their way in, too. What are you left with after all the merriment subsides? Weight gain. If you’re lucky it’ll only be 1 pound, but if you’re already carrying a few extra, chances are it’ll be more. In most cases, this weight sticks around well into the new year. And so begins the slow annual creep of weight gain. But fear not! Armed with a few simple techniques, it is possible to stay on top of your healthy eating goals through the holidays.
1. Forget weight loss, focus on weight neutral. Start by setting a resolution early—why wait to pack on the pounds? A recent study showed Americans are at their slimmest in October and heaviest in early January, gaining an average of just over 1 pound, with only half this weight gain coming off quickly—the other half tends to stick around until the following summer at least! It’s better to be proactive and commit to staying the same weight through the holidays. Then when the new year rolls in, you can celebrate remaining weight neutral as a gigantic success.
2. Continue to weigh yourself. Keep a close eye on your weight by stepping on the scale more frequently. Pick a day or two a week to weigh in—first thing on Monday and Friday mornings tends to work well. You’ll be able to see changes as they’re happening, and prevent small gains from turning into big ones.
3. Do keep food logging. Along with weight checks, one of the best ways to stay focused is to use the food logging feature in the Fitbit app. Consider it your secret weapon against dreaded holiday weight gain. It’s okay to skip a day here and there, but try to track most of the week, and get into the habit of logging as you eat, so you don’t forget later. Plan in advance—that way you’ll be able to see just how many cookies you can eat before you blow your calorie budget. And most important, be honest with yourself, even if you wish you could forget how many cocktails you drank last night!
4. A treat is okay! There’s no need to go into holiday hibernation, but with multiple cocktail parties, roast dinners, and cookie exchanges to attend, learn to be more discerning—eat what you love, not what you like. If your aunt’s pumpkin pie is your weakness, eat it! (Then politely turn down seconds and leftovers.) But if you’re not that attached to cornbread, skip it altogether and save the calories.
5. Get back on track after over-doing it. After a night of overindulgence, listen to your body, and allow it time to reset: you probably won’t be as hungry the next morning, so have a lighter breakfast and even possibly lunch, drink lots of water, and return to your healthy habits. Even if you’re party hopping or busy shopping, make time to hit the gym or go for a walk.
6. Take care of yourself first. Sometimes, you have to be a social snob. Keep a calendar of events, and rather than jumping on every party invite, plan your weeks and be selective of what you say yes to. Replace any fear of missing out with thoughts of self care.
Most important: Don’t get discouraged. The simple act of bringing some consideration and mindfulness to special occasions will help you enjoy the season more. Embrace this time of year as a time to connect with family and friends, away from the food table, and truly celebrate your health and happiness.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.