Maintaining a healthy weight can difficult during the holidays. In a new study, researchers found Americans began gaining weight in October (hello, Halloween candy) – and the weight gain peaked 10 days after Christmas. The study also found participants gained an average of 1.3 pounds during the holiday season. The good news is that for half of the participants, the weight came off quickly once holiday parties ended and regular routines were resumed. But, the bad news is that it took the other half of participants five months to lose the extra pounds.
Below are 10 tips to help you enjoy the holidays and start the new year on a healthy note – without guilt or a few extra inches around your waistline.
1. Exercise in the morning. This starts the calorie-burning process and boosts your metabolism. Studies have shown you’re also more likely to make healthy food choices the rest of the day.
2. Drink water. In a German study, drinking 17 ounces of water increased metabolic rate by about 30 percent for more than an hour. Drink a glass before your meal, which will make you feel fuller.
3. Don’t make the holidays all about food. Focus on spending time with your family and friends. Plan a family hike the morning before your big meal and catch up with family members you don’t often see.
4. Have a healthy snack before attending the family holiday feast or a holiday party. This will curb your hunger, so the high-calorie treats won’t be as tempting.
5. Skip the cocktails. Syrups, sugary fruit juices and creamy additions can quickly turn your beverage into a high-calorie dessert. Stick to drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice or citrus juice.
6. Preview the buffet before grabbing a plate. Take note of the dishes that you really want to try and skip the others. Keep your portion sizes healthy to avoid overeating.
7. Serve from the stove. Family-style meals served at the table invite people to indulge in second and third helpings. Fill your plate before bringing it to the table.
8. Indulge in your favorite holiday food during the big meal, but don’t continue to snack on it days later. Send your guests home with leftovers, so you aren’t tempted to keep indulging.
9. When watching a holiday movie with the family, sit on the floor instead of the couch. You’ll burn more calories because your muscles have to work harder to support you and to help you stand up.
10. Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar foods. Aim to get between 7–8 hours of sleep per night.