For many people, the end of the year is the busiest time of the year – with holiday parties to plan, travel plans to coordinate, family gatherings, get-togethers and more. No matter what your schedule may look like as the snow begins to fall, food will surely play a starring role as many seasonal favorites find their way into your home.
With everyone digging in at the dinner table and piling their plates high, all of these festive foods often lead to unhealthy food choices, overeating, and putting on weight. Studies have shown that Americans gain an average of 1.3 pounds during the week between Christmas and New Year’s alone, and often have trouble losing the weight later on.(1)
To ward off that unwanted weight gain, here are some suggestions to help you eat healthy over the holidays:
Not only does exercise help make up for the increased servings of food, but it can also help reduce higher levels of stress that may accompany the season’s festivities for many people.(2) Consider adding ten to fifteen minutes of daily exercise to your holiday schedule, whether that’s taking a brisk walk in the morning or going for a family hike.
Instead of going straight for the mashed potatoes, start out with a leafy salad with vinaigrette, green beans or vegetable tray – they’ll help you feel full longer, and lessen your likelihood of overeating.(3) If you’re heading out for a holiday party, bring a healthy side or main dish to share where your veggies can shine such as black bean dip!
Mindful eating takes many forms, from not skipping meals to not shopping when you’re hungry. It also means making room for your favorites (in moderation), eating slowly, and taking a break before taking seconds.
Remember what the holidays are really about. Food is only one part of this fun and festive season; don’t forget to focus on celebrating and spending time with friends and family as well!
(1) Kaplan, Karen. “All over the World, People Celebrate Holidays by Gaining Weight.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sept. 2016.
(2) “5 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Nov. 2017.
(3) Team, Heart and Vascular. “8 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating (Infographic).” Health Essentials, Cleveland Clinic, 14 July 2015.