Most research suggests that the average American will gain 1-2 pounds over the holiday season. The stress, sweets and inclement weather can lead to overeating and underexercising. It's a recipe for disaster.
"One or 2 pounds may not seem that bad, but the problem is that many people don't ever lose their holiday weight gain. Over a period of five years, that could be an extra 5-10 pounds you're carrying," says Registered Dietitian Nicole Bengtson, LD/N.
To prevent the dreaded winter weight gain, follow these tips to stay slim over the holiday season. Not only will you keep the extra weight off, but you can get a head start over all of those people waiting until Jan. 1 to start getting healthy.
1. Don't just watch what you eat,write it down. Write down every item that you drink and eat; every spoonful of frosting, broken brownie, taste of chip dip and handful of chips all need to be recorded. Just the act of tracking your intake has been shown to help keep people on track. And don't forget to record your beverages – every cup of eggnog or glass of wine has calories, too!
2. Make a list and check it twice. Put a list of nonfood treats on your refrigerator door. It could include massages, long bubble baths, walks in the park with a friend, renting a good movie, browsing in the book store, window-shopping with a friend, having a manicure or whatever else you enjoy that is not food. During the holidays, we often feel that we deserve a treat, but it doesn't have to be food. You can have the occasional holiday food treat, but keep it to a minimum if it's loaded with sugar and calories.
3. Don't change your style. If you've been doing well sticking to your weight-loss routine -- small meals, whole foods and exercise -- don't get out of those good habits. Carry healthy snacks with you to work and on your shopping trips. You may not get to the gym four times a week, but at least you can squeeze in two days and a walk. Do what you can and you'll reap the rewards as everyone else struggles to get back into their routine come New Year's.
4. Set realistic goals during the holidays. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds over the holidays. Instead, aim to maintain your weight through the holidays. Pick what you eat wisely so you can enjoy every bite. And remember: Don't go back for seconds.
The key to controlling your weight for the rest of your life is to make small, permanent lifestyle changes that are easy to continue. Let's minimize the damage this holiday season and be ready for our New Year's resolutions come January.
How are you handling the holidays? Let us know your secret to a slimmer season by posting below.