Avoid holiday weight gain

The holidays are an exciting time of the year. Can you believe we are already past Halloween, and just two weeks away from Thanksgiving? Between the parties, stress and baked goods it’s also that time of the year when people tend to rapidly gain weight. For student-athletes it’s important to keep up with your training and healthy eating, but also take some time to enjoy the holiday season.

Stay active with family and friends. Sedentary activities, like sitting on the couch watching sports, are common holiday traditions for many families. Inactivity can contribute to weight gain, especially when lounging around is accompanied by excessive amounts of food. An activity as simple as walking with your family can provide benefits. It helps keep your mind off of food and allows you to bond with your loved ones.

Be smart while snaking. During the holidays, unhealthy snacks are everywhere. New batches of cookies, brownies and candy tend to be available for the taking every day. When treats are easy to access, unnecessary snacking or grazing is far too common. You can overcome these situations by being mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself wanting to snack, opt for real foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are filling snacks that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats, both of which can lead to weight gain.

Practice mindful eating. People are often in a rush during the holiday season, which can lead to multitasking during meals. Studies show that those who eat while they are distracted are more likely to overeat. This is because they are unable to pay attention to their body’s fullness signs. To prevent this from happening, eat mindfully without distractions. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, which will allow you to better recognize your body’s signals of fullness and consume fewer calories.

Watch your portion sizes. When the holidays arrive, it can be easy to overdo it on your portion sizes. Especially with all the different foods laid out on the table. You just want to make sure you can get everything on your plate at one time. Those who eat larger than recommended portions tend to gain weight. The best way to overcome this is to weigh and measure your food, eat off of smaller plates and read food labels for recommended serving sizes.

Keep meals balanced with protein. Holidays are typically rich in carbs and lack protein. It is important to include some protein with every meal as it will help you feel more full and help reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa. Ensure holiday meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.

Fiber is another important nutrient that induces fullness. Some studies show that increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake, which make be a method to prevent weight gain over the holidays. Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to incorporate fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds into your meals.

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