9 Inch_PlateIt’s that time of year again – the holidays, along with fun, come with a lot of social gatherings and stress.  For most Americans, that equates to holiday weight gain.  Most importantly, according to the National Institutes of Health, most Americans don’t lose that weight after the New Year.  Those annual extra pounds add up and are an important contributor to adult obesity.   Here are a few key areas where a smart approach will keep you from gaining this year:

General strategy:

  • Have a plan in place. For instance, four to six small meals help to keep binges at bay.
  • Speak up.  Be vocal about your plans to allow others to help you reach your goal.  You never know who you’ll inspire to join you!
  • Stay hydrated – aim to drink at least half your fluids as plain water, and drink before you get thirsty.
  • Day of Treats: for each holiday pick your favorite treat – maybe it’s a certain Halloween candy, mom’s pumpkin pie or a special Christmas cookie.  Plan to have your treat on the day of the holiday, and don’t start indulging weeks before. 
  • HydratedGive yourself grace. If you eat an unknown number of sugar cookies, or dig into your children’s Halloween candy, commit to get back on track the next meal, instead of giving up.

At work:

  • Keep healthy snacks on hand (i.e. granola, fruit, yogurt), so that it’s easier to pass on that leftover Christmas fudge in the break room.
  • Make a swap. Fill the candy jar with individually packaged snacks, like Craisins or trail mix.
  • Take a walk.  Pass right by the break room and get outdoors; even 10-15 minutes is beneficial to your overall health.
  • If you must be part of an exchange, suggest a recipe swap, a secret Santa or a white elephant party.

At parties:

  • Stay hydrated the day of, and eat a healthy snack before you leave for the party.
  • Hold a drink to keep your hands busy – with a glass or bottle of water!
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink for women and two for men.
  • Use a small plate. Fill it with the healthiest options (see our Nov. 2013 post).Yogurt
  • Having meaningful conversations; be present. Focus on others around you, rather than feeling as though you’re missing out.
  • Two to One Rule: two large servings of veggies and/or salad to one serving of sentimental foods (stuffing, casserole, gravy, desserts, etc.). Often one or two bites of those sentimental holiday foods is enough to satisfy a craving!
  • Offer to bring a side, so that you know a healthy vegetable or fruit option will be available.
  • If you’re hosting – put appetizers/meals/deserts away once everyone has had a chance to eat.

At home:

  • Trick or Treat! Establish a no candy rule, go trick or treating with your children instead of purchasing candy and staying behind to pass it out.
  • Pull the trigger. Having “trigger” foods on hand can make staying on track challWalk At_Workenging.  Keep only a few of your children’s favorite candies and toss the rest.
  • Ramp it up. Get outdoors in the beautiful fall weather. Rake leaves, take a walk, or go for a bike ride. 
  • Get Crafty. Instead of baking holiday goodies, try your hand at a hand-made ornament or a photo albumfor grandparents.  Check out www.pinterest.com for great ideas.
  • Re-think your traditions. Go caroling, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or run a Turkey Trot 5k as a part of your family’s healthy lifestyle.

Remember not to get discouraged if you slip up, and envision how great you will look and feel on New Year’s after following these strategies during the holiday season!

By: Erin Skinner, Nutriworks Intern