Story by: Sara Thompson on December 13, 2021
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.
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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.
So, what are the top tips for avoiding weight gain? Here’s what worked for the group in the study:
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.
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