6 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday Season

The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many Americans, maintaining a healthy weight during this time of year is a challenge. As a premier nutrition company, we wanted to dive deeper and identify specific diet and exercise patterns during the holidays and provide tips for staying healthy during this joyous time of year.

In our second annual holiday survey, we commissioned OnePoll to analyze the holiday eating habits of 2,000 U.S. residents. The research found that 41 percent of consumers use the holidays as an excuse to postpone being healthy – a stat consistent with our study last year.

What Causes Weight Gain During the Holiday Season?

More than half of respondents agree that the winter holiday season is the hardest to stay healthy. In fact, the study predicts that the average American will gain approximately 6 pounds from holiday food.

How are Americans gaining that much weight during the holidays?

Let’s look at some additional findings:

On the bright side, a third of respondents have already planned their New Year’s resolutions, most of them aiming to exercise more and eat healthier. Ironically, however, 30 percent of respondents also explained that the reason why they plan to indulge during the holidays is specifically because their New Year’s resolution is to be healthier.

6 Practical Tips on Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

The fact is, the holiday season doesn’t have to throw off a healthy lifestyle. Health is a long-term marathon, and you don’t have to put off your weight or health goals until next year.

Here are six tips on staying healthy this holiday season:

1. Snack before the party.

It might sound counterintuitive, but healthy snacking is a useful tool in combating overindulgence. Starving yourself before the festivities will cause you to overeat, so consume protein-rich snacks before heading out to a holiday feast to help you feel full and prevent you from overindulging.

2. Focus on the people, not the food.

The holidays are about relationships, a time set apart for reconnecting with friends and loved ones. To make the most of these once-a-year moments, go meet and greet. Walk around, catch up with that distant cousin, play with your new nephews, or volunteer to clean up after. As a bonus, movement before and after the meal will help burn off calories!

3. Practice mindful eating.

So, you’re there at the party, and it’s time to eat. The first thing you should do is navigate the buffet table and consider your options. Mindful eating is all about knowing what you put into your body. Limit liquid calories such as alcohol and soft drinks, cut back on taste testing every dish, and savor every bite.

4. Watch your portion sizes.

If a smaller plate is available, choose that over a larger plate. Keep meals balanced with protein, and focus on foods with lots of fiber. While you don’t have to count calories during the party, be mindful of how much you eat. Definitely stop eating when you’re full.

5. Be accountable to someone.

Be confident and tell your friends and family about your health and fitness goals. Who knows? It can even be a great conversation starter. Staying on track can be hard, especially if you are tackling it on your own. Developing a support system of people who know your goals, strengths, and weaknesses can be extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially during the challenging times of the year.

6. Work out the next day.

If you’re guilty of a little overindulgence, work it off at the gym or go on a hike. If you’re visiting your hometown, what better way to enjoy it? Get a head start on your resolutions with a morning jog. If you’re hitting the gym, you’ll be in luck as there will be fewer people during the holiday season.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight During and After the Holidays

A healthy, active lifestyle is a long-term commitment – not something to turn on and off. But if you’ve been waiting all year to taste your mom’s home-cooked dish, please don’t deprive yourself.

Enjoy your holidays. Just don’t go overboard. And while resolutions are a great way to kick start a healthy year, a healthy diet is a long-term solution that you’ll want and need to practice steadily. Stick to a balanced diet that isn’t overly restrictive, and combine it with consistent exercise to help achieve your healthy resolutions.

John Agwunobi, M.D., MBA, MPH – Co-President and Chief Health & Nutrition Officer

John AgwunobiM.D., MBA, MPH – Co-President and Chief Health & Nutrition Officer

Dr. Agwunobi holds an MPH from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from Georgetown University. He completed his pediatric residency at Howard University and is currently a licensed physician in Florida and Maryland. In previous roles, he served as senior vice president and president of health and wellness for Walmart, as well as Assistant Secretary of Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.