Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Author: Shoshana Belisle, MSW, MA, RYT, Namaste Wellness Advisor
There are so many reasons to love the holidays. But if you’re looking to manage your weight, the holidays are notorious for making that tough. It’s well-known that most people gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Years, and this suspicion has been confirmed through research. Studies demonstrate that the average American adult gains between 0.37 kg and .9 kg (0.82 to 1.98 lbs) during the holidays. We can blame frequent parties, energy-dense seasonal foods, an abundance of cocktails, and a reduction in physical activity during the colder months for this fun fact. While indulging over the holidays isn’t necessarily bad, this weight gain can be sticky, leading to incremental weight gain over the years.
That said, we can avoid this slippery slope with a toolbox of pre-party tricks. Namaste’s own CEO and Chief Wellness Advisor, Julie Wald, suggests the following strategies:
Establish an intention for yourself before you attend a holiday gathering. An intention is an antidote to impulsivity. Decide if you will have a cocktail or not. Decide whether you will have dessert or whether you will wait to enjoy a healthy treat at home. Picture a plate full of produce and protein. By deciding and setting an intention ahead, you spare yourself tough decision-making when your defenses are down. If you decide that your intention is to “eat, drink, and be merry,” that’s ok too!
Before you head out to a holiday party, make sure to have a fiber-filled snack. Our ability to make smart food decisions gets undermined when we are ravenous. In fact, blood glucose levels impact all domains of self-control. Have a healthy snack to sustain sound food judgment. Even a simple pre-party banana will do the trick!
Stock up on healthy treats, like low sugar dark chocolate, so that you have something delicious waiting for you at home. This makes it easier to say no when faced with temptation.
Another strategy is to focus on fun instead of food. The holidays are about making memories with loved ones. More lasting memories can be made when you get outside of your comfort zone and go on a new adventure. Maybe try a new winter sport or pull out the board games.
Nutritionist Allison Gross, MS, RDN, CDN, who is an expert on Namaste’s wellness team, also recommends this strategy regarding wellness routines: “Keep to your routine as much as possible. For example, having your usual breakfast and attending your regular workout classes can help you maintain a sense of control even when your social calendar seems to be inundated with engagements.” She also recommends giving yourself a pep-talk “to remind yourself that your goals are important to you.”
With a little bit of planning, goal-setting, and reflection, it is possible to start the New Year feeling good. Of course, the holidays are meant to be festive and special, so don’t rob yourself of the joy and a little indulgence. But aim to be mindful, and remember that there are so many ways to celebrate and have fun. Food and drink are just part of the recipe.
If you would like support navigating the holiday food hustle (or New Years clean up if need be!) reach out to Namaste. A Namaste nutritionist or Wellness Advisor is your secret weapon for total well being, and for that holiday spirit too.