The average American gains 1-3 pounds in the month of December, and the weight typically stays. Does this mean you should skip the holiday parties, avoid food traditions, or become overly focused on calories (or the scale)? No! It’s important to live life and enjoy the holiday season.
We asked our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) for tips to strike the right balance. Here are some of their best suggestions:
- Get at least 30 minutes of activity per day. Find a work out buddy, or exercise with family! Go for a hike, a bike ride, a jog, a ski trip, a walk, a family 5K. There are endless possibilities.
- Prep special meals with family or friends. This makes the process more enjoyable and prevents mindless tasting.
- Focus on homemade foods vs. processed foods, and on foods you can only get this time of year.
- Never show up empty handed! Bring a healthy dish you love to a gathering to give yourself options.
- When surrounded by goodies, focus on fruits and veggies. Aim for making half of what you eat fruits and veggies. Example: use half veggies instead of chips in dips.
- Don’t skimp on sleep! Despite the hectic pace of the holidays, prioritize quality sleep.
- When at a party, alternate water in between alcoholic beverages.
- When heading to a gathering, bring a fruit or veggie tray so you know there is something healthy for you (and other guests) to snack on.
- Make that fruit or veggie tray appealing! cut veggies into smaller, more bit-sized pieces and put them on a festive tray; cut fruit into bite-sized pieces and make cute fruit kabobs.
- Have a small amount of protein with a carb before going to holiday parties so you don’t show up starving.
- Survey the buffet and/or dessert table and decide what is worth it.
- Don’t end up next to the food; position yourself across the room or outside to minimize mindless eating.
- Chew slowly! Try to really taste and savor every single bite.
- Remember that these foods will be around for a while. Don’t eat like it’s your last day of life!
- Hydrate! Drink more water before a meal, during a meal, after a meal, between meals.
- Don’t skip meals to leave “more room” for other meals. This can lead to overeating because you let yourself get too hungry.
- Check in with yourself about hunger and fullness throughout the day to minimize mindless eating.
- Ask ahead of time what the food situation will look like so you can mentally prepare/plan what you may want to have.
- Food allergies? Eat before you arrive and also consider bringing a dish to share that you know is allergy-safe.
- When indulging in a treat, slow down and truly enjoy it!
And our best tip of all: Don’t worry about your weight. Enjoy the holidays and focus on time with the people you love. It only comes once a year! Don’t waste the season focusing on numbers. Remember that food isn’t just fuel, it’s fun! Eat what you love…and love yourself for eating it.
Want more holiday tricks and tips? Treat yourself this season to a meeting with a health coach or dietitian nutritionist!