Woman trying on jeans

4 Practical Ways to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

By Rita Larsen, RDN; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor

Celebrate the holiday and still fit into your clothes come January! Here are some tricks of the trade!

1.) Stay Calm

Minimizing anxious feelings can help your waistline. Stress hormones like cortisol will boost your desire for sugary and fatty foods, and research has found that chronically stressed people have more abdominal fat than those with lower levels of anxiety, even though they follow similar diets.

2.) Have a Plan

We know that people eat 9% of their calories before they even dig into their holiday meals. It is usually, in the form of appetizers, like small bites of chips, dips, and nuts. Help yourself this holiday by not going overboard by minimizing or skipping the starters. Then when dinner is served, start with the “rule of two” by dishing up your first two items that are your favorites. Research has shown that when people enjoy their favorite foods first, they are more quickly satisfied. With a plan to not overload on food, individuals are able to cut their intake by 30% and avoid eating heaping amounts of food.

3.) Pump Up Your Protein

Snacking on refined carbohydrates like crackers and pretzels can actually stimulate your appetite, especially if you struggle with weight loss, making you want to munch even more. The best way to avoid this is to eat regular meals and to have good amounts of protein at each meal. The approximate amount that is recommended each meal is 25-30 gm protein—the equivalent of 3.5 oz chicken, 3 oz cheese, 4 oz. cooked salmon, and 12 large shrimp. This amount will help you to balance blood sugar levels, and counter cravings. After two weeks of added protein at meals, you will find that you feel the need for less sugar and carbohydrates, i.e. all those sugary cookies, pies, and candies.

4.) Practice Makes Perfect

If you are already thinking about “holding back” just a little on the foods and doing your continued exercise/fitness routines at the gym, there is not a better time in the year for a “practice session” than the holiday season. Probably the biggest hurdle that aspiring healthy adults need to face is to realize that moderation will be the key—abundant food intake requires abundant exercise to burn it all off. Over the past 20-30 years Americans have been well known throughout the world for being “bigger is better” consumers. Which is apparently not the case anymore, states current research, as Americans are becoming increasingly savvy about their basic needs for nutrients and eating what they actually need.

So, take these four simple tips into consideration in the days to come, and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier new year!

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

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