Party season can be stressful! There always seems to be too many people to see and too little time. Though everyone deals with stress differently, weight gain is a commonly reported issue amongst stressed out and socially engaged folks.
Here are the top 6 Things You Must Know to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:
1. Evaluate Your Options & Build a Balanced Plate
Whether you are at a buffet, celebration, or on the run there are usually several food options available for you to choose from; some healthier than others. Though making an occasional exception to indulge might usually be fine, but when the parties pile up it becomes more important to be extra vigilant of your intake.
The best way to balance out calories and nutrition is to aim for a healthy plate, which features ¼ protein + ¼ carbohydrates + ½ vegetables.
Go for lean proteins such as beans, lentils, tofu, poultry, and lean cuts of meat
Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grain bread or pasta, buckwheat, quinoa, barley, oatmeal; stay away from white & refined grains
Load up on vegetables—two handfuls worth at lunch & dinner—of various colours that are served fresh, steamed, grilled, or lightly sautéed
2. Use Smaller Plates
The eyes are often hungrier than the stomach, especially when we are famished. Most people fill their plates to the brim and consume larger portions than are needed to satisfy hunger. As visual queues are an important aspect of satiety, it is important to understand how to use them to your advantage.
Using smaller plates will help you feel fuller with a smaller amount of food. This is particularly important if you have a habit of finishing everything on your plate. Eating an identical portion of food from a filled small plate will actually make you feel fuller than eating the same amount of food from a partly empty larger plate. Think of it as an optical food illusion that you can use to control your weight without changing the foods you eat.
3. Limit “Sometimes Foods”
Between the work and family parties, there is sure to be a fair share of “sometimes foods”—sugary, fried, and generally unhealthy food options. Though it will likely be impossible to avoid these entirely, it is important to try and limit them. They can wreak havoc not only on your waistline, but also on your skin and overall mood.
4. Be Mindful of liquid calories
Though watching our calories often focuses on the foods we eat, it is important to also be mindful of the liquid calories one may be consuming. Both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages can have quite the caloric kick.
Consider the following:
A medium white hot chocolate from Tim Horton’s is 380 calories. If you have 2 a week for 1 year, this adds up to just over 10 lbs.
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost as much a gram of fat, with some varieties—like liqueurs—adding calories to that with sugars. A shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream is about 121 calories. If you have 3 shots per week for a year, that adds up to just over 5 lbs.
5. Work in a Workout Plan
Though nutrition is a huge part of the weight control pie, we cannot discount the importance of exercise. Being physically active can help burn off those extra calories, as well as improve overall health and mood. However, it’s important not to give yourself permission to eat extra because you exercised a little, as calories are much harder to work off than consume.
6. Review Your Intake with a Registered Dietitian
Tried all of the above and still gaining weight or not losing it fast enough? Do you feel stuck and unsure about what you’re doing wrong or how to eat healthy? Is getting healthy part of your new years resolution?
Getting advice from a registered dietitian (RD)—LIKE ME—is the best way to make sure you’re on the right track with your eating. As the only nutrition professionals accredited by a provincial regulatory body, RDs use evidence-based knowledge and skills to promote good health. Since dietitian services are included in many employers’ health insurance plans, you may be able to access Eat Well Anna’s services for free or at a low out-of-pocket cost. Most importantly, an RD will help you make changes that are sustainable for life, which is more than what any fad diet can offer. Investing in professional nutrition counsel is investing in your health for year to come.
Wishing you great health and good food,
Anna Gofeld, RD, M.A.N., BASc
Owner of Eat Well Anna Nutrition Consulting – annagofeld.com
Masters of Applied Nutrition
BASc Nutrition and Food