Worried about weight gain over the holidays? We've got some pro tips for staying healthy (without losing your mind) this holiday season.
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You may have heard that people gain an average of 7-10 pounds during the holidays. This little nugget of “information" can send people into a tailspin of anxiety. Ten pounds! But rest easy. In reality, studies indicate average weight gain during the holidays is really around one pound. That said, research shows most folks don’t lose that pound - and the pounds can add up year after year. Even more, those with higher BMIs to start often gain more weight during the season.
For many people, these extra holiday pounds can lead to health problems long after the seasonal festivities after over, like increased risk for certain types of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and strokes.
The good news: there is a way to avoid weight gain over the holidays.
So…how is it possible to avoid weight gain over the holidays?
1. Go plant-based
Study after study shows a whole food plant-based diet is very effective for weight loss. A whole food plant-based diet consists of whole and unrefined fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes. A whole foods, plant-based diet does not include meat, dairy, eggs, or refined products like white flour, refined sugar, and oil. It’s high in fiber, which helps to keep you full longer and prevents overeating; eating an extra 14 grams of fiber daily may reduce caloric intake by 10 percent. Plant-based foods also tend to have fewer calories per volume than other types of food.
Transitioning to whole, plant-based foods can not only help you avoid weight gain over the holidays, it’ll also been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent or even reverse heart disease and diabetes, reduce inflammation, limit medications, and boost energy (something you may need more of throughout the sometimes draining holiday season).
2. Avoid or limit alcohol
Feeling stressed is a totally normal, albeit annoying, part of the holiday season. You’ve got in-laws on the way, last minute shopping to do, dinner obligations every other day. Aside from stress being bad for our health in general, it also leads many to overeat to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger. Take a bath, drink a cup of herbal tea, eat stress-relieving foods, meditate, or even take a night off from “holiday” activities to slow down and recharge.
4. Eat BEFORE You Go to the Holiday Party
If you show up to a holiday party hungry, chances are you'll have a harder time ignoring those sugar cookies. Fill up on high fiber foods that satiate you (and drink plenty of water) before you arrive to ensure you don't fall into that hunger trap. Oh, and bonus: bring a healthy snack in case you're there for a while and need to eat again.
5. Get Support
Need help staying healthy this holiday season? Enlist a friend to embrace healthy habits with and/or join our private Facebook group for plant-based beginners to get daily tips, tricks, live videos, and more to keep you feeling your best this season!
"Progress not perfection" is a darn good mantra, and keep in mind this isn’t about waist lines or “bikini bodies” — whatever those are — so much as it’s about a healthier, happier you. And if you "fall off the wagon" that's no biggie. Tomorrow is another day. Brush it off, laugh about it, and keep going.
You've got this!
- Holiday weight gain happens — but it doesn't have to!
- 5 ways to ward off holiday weight gain: eat more plant-based foods, avoid or limit alcohol, de-stress, eat before you go to any holiday parties, get support!
- And in the end, be gentle with yourself. If your weight loss goals are derailed, that's OK! Just keep swimming :)
By Ali Brown
Ali is a nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.