On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season. While this weight gain isn’t dramatic, research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years. Being aware of this and having a few strategies in mind to help, you can avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family, and the holiday feast!
When people are preparing for a big holiday party or feast, it is not uncommon for them to skip meals to “save” those calories for later. However, this often results in overeating later in the day and is not recommended. It is especially important to eat breakfast, as research shows that those who eat this morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. High-fiber foods will satisfy hunger but are lower in calories, so include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your meals.
Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style and include second and third helpings. While most wouldn’t consider eating an entire cake, a common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthy. Including nutrient-rich foods in your diet is great, just remember these foods have calories too and should be enjoyed in moderation. Do not serve meals family style. Keep pots & pans away from the table to help avoid second helpings.
There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating. Using a smaller plate, for instance, allows you to put less food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Research shows eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds wait 10 minutes to see if you are still hungry.
Using this approach at the holiday dinner table will allow you to maintain a healthful eating plan—one that can also include dessert!