Psychology Today calls holiday weight gain, the “holiday creep”. A study was conducted to determine how much weight people gain over the holidays. While many people thought they only gained about two pounds, the people surveyed actually gained four times more than they thought they did. Those who were overweight or considered obese, are more susceptible to the risk of overindulging that leads to significant weight gain over the holiday season.
People gain weight for many reasons over the holidays. Food at parties, office celebrations and family get-togethers are a given. However, stress from social and work obligations, meeting with certain family members, and finances can add to the overload that has many reaching for one too many canapés or cocktails.
Managing stress over the holidays can be achieved by practicing some natural strategies to keep stress levels under control. Maintaining an exercise schedule, eating healthy throughout the day, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation may help you stay mindful and manage not only stress, but overeating linked to stress.
Read more tips for managing holiday stress
Here are some other practical tips to help beat the bulge over the holidays.
1. Drink plenty of water – Alcohol and sugar can dehydrate you pretty quickly. Make sure you are getting at least 10 cups of filtered spring water every day. Drinking a glass before meals will help you to feel fuller faster, which may help you cut down on calories.
2. Drink alcohol in moderation – Not only do cocktails add calories (some have more than an appetizer!), but they also lower inhibitions, making that tray of finger foods look irresistible. It adds extra calories to your diet, encourages you to eat more food, and alters the normal digestive process.
3. Get plenty of rest – Staying up late for a long period of time can be taxing on the body. Studies show that the key to staying slim, or losing weight, is to get between 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Try to maintain a good sleep schedule during the holiday season. Leave the party a little earlier, or sleep a little later the next day if you can.
4. Fiber is key to feeling full – Having a light meal before going to a party consisting of fiber-rich veggies and some protein will ensure you won’t over-indulge. In fact, try eating vegetarian throughout the day before a big event. At the party, load up on crudités and salad, while paying attention to added fat in the dressing or dip.
5. Don’t starve all day to overindulge later – Doing so will put your body in starvation mode, making it hold onto everything you put into it later. Eating frequent small meals throughout the day revs up metabolism, which is needed to deal with a few extra calories at this time of the year.
6. Choose indulgences wisely – Resisting food can lead to over-indulging, so pick two or three indulgences at a party and savor them! Here are some naughty and nice hints to help:
• Cheese – Stick to an ounce of this dairy indulgence – that’s a piece about the same size as four dice.
• Fried bites – A rule to eat by: If it leaves a grease stain on your cocktail napkin, you shouldn’t go back for seconds.
• Creamy dips – Spinach-artichoke dip has veggies in its name, but the main ingredients in rich dips are usually high-fat cream cheese and sour cream.
• Raw veggies – These snack-tray staples are not just low-cal, they’re good for you.
• Shrimp cocktail – Lean protein in shrimp is paired with a naturally light (and lycopene rich) tomato-based sauce.
• Hummus – This spread is your best bet for scooping: You can eat a quarter cup and log just 100 calories.
7. Consider digestive enzymes -Taking a natural digestive enzyme before a rich meal may be beneficial. Enzymes will help you break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates a lot better, as well as help with elimination. If heartburn and indigestion is an issue, consider a digestive enzyme with betaine hydrochloride.
8. Continue to exercise – incorporate at least three, half hour sessions of exercise per week to burn off extra calories.
[Editor’s Note: If you want to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and chemical additives from your diet for good, click here to sign up for a Naturally Savvy Get Healthy Challenge.]
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