Holiday weight gain is a very common occurrence. I know I personally used to put on 10 pounds every Christmas and it would take me nearly 6 months to get it off (I wasn't trying that hard, but still, I was trying). Weight loss is a struggle and for women with PCOS, it can be nearly impossible with common weight loss techniques. The best way to deal with holiday weight gain is to avoid it in the first place! So here are some tips as you prepare for the holiday season.
1) Be conscious of what you eat. I've had 2 gallons of eggnog since the holiday started that is literally 8,000 calories that I normally don't have in my life! Not to mention the fact that my neighbors have brought over cookies and chocolates to name a few. So what do we do?
Option 1: Save them for a holiday event and bring them with you!
Option 2: Bring them to work and leave them in the lunch room but make sure you have one if your neighbor made them for you.
Option 3: Freeze them. Most cookies and candies freeze really well to be enjoyed at a later time or in smaller amounts.
2) Make healthy alternatives. This week I shared a healthy twist on Buckeyes, the normal recipe having 6 cups of sugar! There are always healthy alternatives to everything your heart desires. Do a quick search on the internet to find a better option but remember, just because it is better for you doesn't mean it's actually good for you.
Another trick for baking is to replace butter with mashed banana or applesauce. You can also use dry fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies. For meals, try using herbs and spices to flavor dishes instead of butter. Try to grill or bake instead of frying your foods to avoid those extra calories.
3) Weigh yourself daily. Part of avoiding holiday weight gain is to acknowledge it. Stepping on a scale daily during the holidays will help you take action. There are studies that show, people who weigh themselves often lose weight better than people who don't. However, do whatever makes you feel most comfortable, if you prefer to weigh yourself only once a week, that works too.
4) Don't start tomorrow! Start today. I've done it, you've done it, our friends have done it. It's the worst time of year to say "I'll start tomorrow." Weight will not wait! Food choices and staying on track with your goals is what you need to control your weight during the holiday season. It isn't fun but if your goal is to avoid holiday weight gain then stick to it, even if it isn't fun. If you forget or make a mistake, that's okay but move forward with healthier food choices the next time you eat.
5) Limit alcohol. Sometimes you can just skip the alcohol. It depends on your current lifestyle choices but if you're celebrating and have the options of treats and alcohol, pick only one in order to avoid the extra calories. One beer is 160 calories which is about the same as a Christmas cookie!
6) Eat more Fiber! Holiday nuts are some of my favorite things during the holidays. Pick up a pair of nut crackers and get a bunch of nuts. If you stress eat during the holiday or like to snack this gives you something to keep you hands busy while also giving you fiber! Fiber helps reduce your calorie intake and research shows it can help with weight control. If you want to get really adventurous you can also roast chestnuts ;)
7) Relax... Stress is common during the holidays and not only can that lead to more eating and cravings of sugarplums, people who are stressed often have high cortisol. Cortisol is a a hormone released from stress and high cortisol levels are linked to weight gain. We know this isn't always easy, especially during the holiday season. Check out this blog for some helpful ideas to stay happy and destress.
8) Get quality sleep. It's amazing how much sleep matters. The less we sleep we get, the hungrier we get and then we eat! Plus when we haven't slept well, we don't feel like exercising. Studies show that people who don't sleep enough have higher levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin which lead to overeating, by at least 300 calories a day. Those midnight cookies add up!
9) Don't do this dance alone! That's right, things are always easier with a friend or supportive spouse, sometimes having someone else who can help keep you motivated and has the same motivation for themselves is great. However keep in mind, it's that time of year and you have to be extra strong to avoid those gallons of eggnog and cookies. Picking the right person to do this with is important because if they cave in for the sweets, it might make you more inclined to as well. If you can't find the right friend to help you stay motivated to avoid holiday weight gain then try using a daily journal or planner. Make a little star or check mark on the page for each day that you've accomplished being mindful of holiday treats.
10) Avoid processed foods. If you've read any of my blogs, you already know you should stay away from processed foods. As far as tips for a healthier life, that is pretty much #1! What qualifies as a processed food you ask? Processed foods have been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with preserving or preparing in different ways. Things like canned pasta sauce, frozen pizza, boxed mashed potatoes or stuffing. These often contain unhealthy fats, salt and excess sugar.
There are plenty of options for a healthy holiday meal and fun holiday snacks that won't set you back too badly. The biggest thing is that your health and wellness are in your hands. If you don't want to spend the time avoiding holiday weight, that is completely up to you. Goodness, I know that even though I don't put on as much as I used to, I still put on a little. I'm okay with an extra pound or two instead of my normal 10 and that's the best we can do, finding what makes us happy.
The new year is coming and if you'd like to make plans and goals going forward that will last, check out this blog about building long lasting sustainable habits! This will help your New Years resolution last longer than ever before.