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Easy tricks to avoid gaining weight this holiday season

Tis the Season for fun, food and merriment…..and weight gain! The average Canadian will gain between 0.2 to 1.3 kg in the next 3 months due to more food, less movement and less mindfulness! Weight gain over these next three months is more likely to happen then not, but there are some quick tips you can use to help reduce the risk and even get that extra weight off faster after the holiday rush is over:

Weigh yourself more often through the holidays

Please note, this doesn’t mean obsessively or even every day, but at least once a week to check-in with how things are trending. Preferably weight yourself at the same time and day of the week. You must weight yourself on the same scale for this to be accurate. One study did show people who weight themselves more frequently, even a few times within the week, lost the holiday weight they gained within about amount, whereas those who didn’t lost the weight in the next 5 months. Weighing yourself regularly MAY not be appropriate for everyone, especially if you have struggled with mental health issues around food and body

It’s all about one thing: Fibre Fibre Fibre!

The more you eat the better! Very high fibre foods will force you to question why you are eating, because you will be much fuller and more satiated before holiday parties, buffets, and while the hors-d-oeuvre are being passed under your nose. When you are physiologically “full” its much harder to over-eat for other reasons. You also get the benefit of keeping your bowels moving and happy throughout the season, which means You will be happier.

Some examples of very high-fibre foods:

  • ½ cup of All Bran Cereal, All Bran Buds or another fibre-rich whole grain cereal that has > 45% daily value fibre. Enjoy with some kind of fluid (water, milk, plant beverage) and ½ cup of fruit for a whopping 55% of your DV for fibre!
  • If you are gluten-free, GF steel-cut oatmeal, 2/3 cup cooked, with ¼ cup of frozen fruit will do the trick (~10 grams of fibre)
  • Beans and lentils; Have ¾ cup of a bean salad mix (you can use canned and drain and rinse) like Chickpea Greek Salad or 2-bean medley before a dinner party, will stop excessive hunger it its tracks.
  • Even a large handful of raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds) + an apple can be eaten on the go and set the tone for not overeating

Be Merry AND Mindful

This can mean a few things:

Always eat a high-fibre meal before a party (if it’s a dinner party, have a high-fibre snack), even if you don’t think you need it

Remind yourself food is not LOVE or comfort! It can be very stressful to have to interact with people that are emotionally draining or tough relationships at this time of year. Find comfort in talking, walking, sharing but not eating.

Do NOT stand anywhere near the food or buffet tables at parties…take a plate or portion and then move to the farthest place, even so the food is out-of-sight, while you enjoy.

Get engaged in conversations; that’s why you are there right?! Celebrate by talking and laughing which will distract from food and excess drink

Keep a food diary in the evening, write it with pen and paper, as a way to download and reflect on the choices you made that day. You can even do this for only 3 days per week, and it has been shown to help with weight management through this season.

Go to bed already

This may sound counterintuitive; how can you be going to bed if its party time?! Well what we mean is most nights, all of the non-party/event nights during this season, aim to hit the sack and hour earlier. People who stayed up late, espescially those watching T.V. in the evening, ate and average of ~250 more calories daily. This can add up to 1500 kcal weekly! That’s the average number of calories of a holiday party meal. Make room in your diet for the high-calorie meals by watching more closely habits during off-nights. Consistent shut-eye is also a great way to boost immunity and lower stress hormones in the blood (which contribute to fat around your belly). Being well-rested can also help with those pesky difficult relative conversations you are bound to have!

Stay cool….literally

We tend to crank the heat in homes and buildings this time of year which leads to all kinds of problems, not the least of which is a DECREASE in the total amount of calories you burn!! If you want to keep your basal rate of metabolism working a touch harder to burn those extra holiday calories, try keeping your thermostat lower, and wearing more sweaters, socks and blankets if you really need to.  A lower home temperature in your house may improve sleep and forces the brown fat in our bodies (the active fat) to be more stimulated, which helps with using more calories. Just don’t dip too low or your brain will tell you to eat more! Wherever you are starting from, drop them tep by 0.5 degrees and see how low you can comfortably go.

Stop drinking diet pop and drinks

Drinking sugar-free and diet drinks can actually increase weight gain worse over time. There is a 47% larger increase in BMI among those diet pop drinkers compared to those who drank none, according to one study published in the journal Obesity. Do not over-rely on diet drinks to curb appetite or fill you up so you don’t overeat, because in fact they will do the opposite. You may eat MORE at your next meal after consuming diet pop. This could be because your brain is trying to tell you to compensate for the calories it didn’t receive with that sweetly deceptive drink. Stick to sparkling water for fizz and bubbles, tea or coffee for a caffeine kick and a cholate for a sweet fix. A latte with chocolate sprinkles could be the perfect pre-party drink! Sweet, a bit of energy and appetite-suppressing.

FOCUS…avoid multi-tasking

Stay focused on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth, our brains can only optimally focus and perform one thing at a time, even if in quick succession. If you are running around trying to do 1 million things at once, fatigue sets in faster and your resolve lowers for making healthy food choices. Your brain goes in to survival mode, and may be programmed to eat a cheeseburger and fries + pop to survive the stress! Different tasks during the holidays can require very different mindsets, and one study at Emory university found that switching too quickly can lower your self-control resources. Time block what you need to get done, and knock of your to-do list one-by-one. Healthy snacking along the way!