Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. No wonder people gain about a pound each year on average during the holiday season. That it’s just one pound is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. 

One pound. Not so bad, right? Our clothes still fit, kind of. But seven or eight years from now (and eight or nine accumulated pounds later), it would be easier breaking into Fort Knox than squeezing into our favorite jeans, no matter how much we suck in. 

Here are ten science-backed techniques that help avoid weight gain during the holidays to ensure that only Santa’s belly shakes like a bowl of jelly at Christmas. 

Let’s get started!

Get Real 

Look. You make the same promise every year. Okay… I’ll have just one Christmas cookie. When have you ever kept that promise? You know the holidays are all about fun parties and tempting treats. Maybe Jesus said “no” to temptation, but us? Not so much. 

Get real with yourself by acknowledging that you’re going to eat more than usual and that you need to set goals and boundaries to minimize the carnage. 

Some boundaries might include saving holiday treats for one day on the weekends or choosing to fill up on healthy food to keep you from over-indulging on holiday snacks. 

Consider setting one or two attainable goals like boosting your physical activity or going for a short 15-minute walk after eating sugary foods. Write them down and keep them on your mirror or fridge, so you see them every day. 

 Make Smart Choices

This killer tip might be the only one you need. Snack on high-fiber foods, veggies, and proteins about an hour before leaving for a party or event. You will feel full longer and eat less scale-flattening food. 

Next, force yourself to eat smaller portions by using smaller plates once you’re at the event. And limit yourself to one or two plates. 

Lastly, eat slowly. Savor every bite. You’ll enjoy your food and feel full quicker.

Send Food Home

If you’re the one hosting the party, don’t get stuck with piles of irresistible leftovers. Why not keep the holiday cheer going by sending the extra food home with your guests instead?

Invest in disposable food containers (make it even more special by picking special holiday-themed containers), fill them up and give them to your guests as they’re are leaving. 

Reconsider Alcohol

Consuming alcoholic beverages piles on the calories. For example, a regular beer has about 153 calories, while a glass of wine has about 133 calories. That’s a whole lot of surplus energy in liquid form. 

Not only that, but alcohol can make you act irresponsibly, especially around food. So, let’s say you’d typically eat just a couple of snacks here and there. After a drink or two, you’re more likely to throw caution to the wind and eat four or five cookies, rather than just a couple as you usually would.

In fact, why not consider making this an alcohol-free holiday season? You’ll have an easier time managing your weight and will be fully present for each special moment you spend with friends and loved ones. 

Limit Temptation By Freezing Leftovers

Instead of giving your delicious, irresistible leftovers to your guests, freeze them instead to avoid temptation. Keeping them in the fridge makes it too easy to indulge. Freezing them makes it less likely you’ll reach for second and third helpings. It makes meal prep easier, too, because you’ll have a ready-to-serve dinner whenever you need it later on.

Drink Water

Drinking water might seem a little boring because it isn’t flavorful or fizzy. But, drinking water regularly throughout the day will help you lose weight because you’ll feel full and not eat as much. Plus, water has so many health benefits it’s hard to know where to start.

Water isn’t filled with artificial ingredients and sugars that increase your caloric intake and lead to weight gain. 

Try to limit yourself to one glass of soda or juice each day through the holidays. Otherwise, stick to water. You’ll feel more alert and less edgy because water washes toxins from your body.

Chew Gum

The jury is still out whether chewing gum curbs appetite. But some people will chew gum after a meal to make it less likely to indulge in second and third helpings, which is so easy to do during the holidays.

TV And Eating

Eating while you’re watching TV has been linked to overeating and making poor food choices. You get caught up in your favorite show, and before you know it, your fingers are scraping the greasy bottom of that bag of chips. 

But it’s not just mindless TV watching that gets you. It’s the commercials for processed snacks and sugary drinks that trigger your cravings and influence what you put in your cart when grocery shopping.

Get Your Steps

Even if your schedule makes it impossible to get to the gym regularly during the holidays, decide to stay active. Use the stairs. Park farther away at the mall. Be intentional about getting more steps in the coming weeks to burn extra calories. As an added bonus, physical exercise eases stress and tension caused by all the holiday hustle and bustle.

Reduce Stress

The holiday season really is merry and bright. But it’s also full of stress and anxiety.

Stress can trigger cravings and overeating, especially with unrestricted access to so much comfort food. 

Studies reveal that there’s a direct link between stress-related eating and obesity. So be mindful of holiday stress and take time for self-care. It can be as simple as taking a walk, five minutes of meditation, listening to uplifting music, or reading your favorite book. You might even book a massage. 

The holiday season really is the most wonderful time of year for so many people. And there are so many ways to enjoy the traditions we’ve come to know and love that don’t set us back but set us up for the New Year ahead. Use one or more of these ten tips to support your health and fitness goals and avoid gaining weight during the holidays.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

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