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Don’t let holiday weight gain get the best of you! People who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight often find the holidays a difficult time of year. During the holidays we are surrounded by some of our favorite foods and tend to have more opportunities to indulge. In this post we will talk about ways to enjoy special holiday foods without gaining unwanted weight. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods and partake in holiday festivities!

How Much Weight Do We Actually Gain?

Studies have found that people overestimate how much weight they actually gain over the holidays. People think that 5 lbs is the average weight gain, but actually, most Americans only gain 1-2 lbs during the holiday season. However, research has shown that most people don’t lose those 1-2 lbs later in the year. Even though it’s small, annual holiday weight gain could add up to a significant amount of extra pounds over the years.  Follow these 5 tips to make sure your holiday weight gain doesn’t stay with you throughout the year!

Watch Those Holiday Drinks

Unlike other holiday treats, drinks add on the calories without making you feel full. One cup of eggnog for example, contains 340 calories and 18g fat!  Consider swapping out this sugar and fat laden drink for sparkling water or a decaf chai tea with foamed milk. A grande hot chocolate made with 2% milk packs in 320 calories, 9g fat and 47g carbs. To keep off those extra pounds, be careful to limit alcohol, eggnog, cider, hot chocolate and other holiday beverages. Order the smallest size available for flavored coffee beverages and request half the sugar to save some calories. Better yet, go for herbal tea or a “skinny latte.”

Eat Mindfully

Start with small portions and check in with your hunger and fullness cues. If you don’t really like something, don’t finish it. It’s easy to overeat when you are socializing.  Try to pay attention to how full you are starting to feel at each meal and stop before you feel stuffed. It can help to rate your hunger and fullness from 1-10 based on your own body signals. For instance, a 2 could be indicated by a growling stomach, and an 8 could be feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

The next time you are diving into your favorite decadent foods, really focus on the taste, smell and texture of the food. Eat slowly and savor each bite. See if a couple of bites is enough to keep you satisfied before reaching for more.

Exercise regularly

Suggest an after meal walk with relatives or friends to help with digestion and burn off some of those extra calories. Exercise can also help with the stress that the holidays often bring. Take time from the wrapping, cooking and socializing to de-stress by walking indoors or outdoors or do a short yoga or pilates routine at home.  Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. If your holiday schedule is too tight to fit 30 minutes in at one time, try 10 minute bursts of brisk walking or a 10 minute workout 3x per day.

Load up on fruits and veggies first

Fill half your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables.  Try a cup of vegetable soup or a salad before meals. Snack on veggies and hummus and have fruit with a small piece of chocolate or whipped cream for dessert. Roast vegetables, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or other root vegetables for a healthy but delicious side.  Think about having a 2:1 ratio of vegetables to starchy sides  on your plate.

Don’t stress

Managing stress can help you with your long term weight goals, by reducing the need for stress eating.  One or two days of indulging isn’t going to make or break your health goals for the year.  If you eat or drink a little more than you normally would, don’t feel bad. Just focus on making healthy choices throughout the next day.  Be sure to take time out of the hustle and bustle to relax and enjoy the special moments with family and friends. 

Looking for help with your diet in the new year? Now is the perfect time to take advantage of our nutrition services! Call 301-288-1319 now to make an appointment to see our Registered Dietitian.