Study shows you can keep weight from creeping up over the holidays
You shut the door after the last trick-or-treater has been treated, and DING DONG! It’s the holiday season calling! Read on for tips to get through the holidays with more jingle, less jiggle.
A study in the British Medical Journal wondered if typical holiday weight gain is inevitable or preventable. Results suggest brief behavioral interventions during the holiday period do make a difference in whether someone gains weight.
Researchers randomized 272 adults into one of two groups. The intervention group was given a behavioral intervention intended to increase their restraint of food and beverage consumption. The intervention involved three components: encouraging participants to regularly weigh themselves and record their weight; providing specific weight-management strategies; and providing information on how much physical activity would be needed to burn off the calories consumed in typical holiday foods and drinks. The control group received information on healthy living.
Results showed that the intervention group lost an average of 0.3 pounds, while the control group gained 0.8 pounds. This may not seem like much, but research shows that weight gains are not fully lost in the months following the holidays. Although the yearly gain is small, it can add up to an increase of 10 pounds over 10 years.
How to avoid gaining weight during the holidays
So, what are the top tips for avoiding weight gain? Here’s what worked for the group in the study:
- Stick to your typical meal routine. Eat all your meals through the day at about the same time.
- Lower the fat. Choose low-fat foods whenever possible.
- Walk it off. Experts say you should aim for 10,000 steps a day.
- Keep healthy handy. Have low-fat, whole food snacks ready. Good choices include low- fat yogurt and fruit.
- Size matters. Measure food if you aren’t sure what a serving size looks like, and think twice about going back for seconds.
- Sitting is the new smoking. Stand up for at least 10 minutes out of every hour.
- Rethink your drink. Pick water or low-calorie beverages, and limit alcohol.
- Tune in to the meal. Eat slowly, away from the TV or other distractions.
More tips to prevent weight gain
Plan ahead as much as you can. For example, if you know you’ll be attending a holiday party in the evening, balance the rest of the day with lighter fare and more water.
Make the healthiest choices available. Going to a restaurant? Choose low-fat, healthy protein and vegetable options. If your workplace is a minefield of bonbons and sugar cookies, be sure to have healthy snacks available and reroute yourself away from the break room.
Consider new traditions that don’t involve food, such as driving to see holiday lights or catching up with friends during a walk.