It’s that time of the year again. Chaos ensues as our calendar fills up with holiday parties and engagements we must attend. Holidays are supposed to be a time of peace and reflection. But instead, it’s often endless to-do lists, obligations, and too much food.
On average, Americans gain 7-10 pounds during the holiday season. Even the best-intentioned people tend to gain weight because there’s just too much temptation.
How many times have you left your house saying you were not going to overeat at the company party only to find yourself on your third piece of pie? It’s okay. Raise your hand.
The holidays are a stressful and busy time. So what do you do if you want to avoid the weight gain?
Here are four actionable steps to implement TODAY to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain:
1. Increase your daily steps to at least 12,000 per day.
Increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) will offset any additional calorie intake you may have during hectic holiday party days. Getting your steps in isn’t a cure-all to overconsumption. But if you find yourself unable to get to the gym for a few days and you know you have a few parties where you’d like to enjoy food without guilt (as you should), then increase your steps and enjoy yourself.
2. Set a goal that you’d usually save for the new year NOW.
Stop waiting until the new year to hold yourself to a higher standard. Start now and get a leg up on everyone else. If you can succeed during the toughest part of the year, you’ll be unstoppable in January. If you fall short of your goal, you’ll still be so much further ahead of everyone else that waited.
3. Pick your poison, but only one!
If you’re going to drink, skip the dessert. If you want that piece of pie, skip the wine. Holiday foods are full of flavor, and they are highly palatable. They’re designed to make you want to eat more. Eat your meal, but pick EITHER dessert or an alcoholic beverage. Don’t do both.
4. Chew your food an additional 20 times before swallowing.
Thoroughly chewing your food will allow salivary amylase to start breaking down the carbs in your mouth. Additionally, it’ll slow down your eating, which may reduce your food intake as you’ll be able to notice that you’re getting full. When you eat too quickly, you don’t allow your body to respond to the food you’ve ingested, which may leave you stuffed. You’ll also be able to enjoy your food more.
Enjoy your holiday season, and remember that the holidays are for gratitude and not self-loathing. If you find yourself stuck, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.