By: Dr. John Agwunobi, co-president and chief health and nutrition officer
The holiday season is just around the corner, and for many Americans, maintaining a healthy weight during this time of year is a challenge. At Herbalife Nutrition, we wanted to dive deeper and identify specific diet and exercise patterns during the holidays and provide tips for staying healthy during this joyous time of year.
To gather data, we commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 2,000 U.S. residents. The study found that 45 percent of consumers are giving up attempts to eat clean or lose weight until the next year. That’s nearly half of respondents not caring about their health or weight until after the holidays.
According to the study, the average American will gain approximately 6 pounds from holiday food, and only 12 percent will survive the holiday season without gaining any weight.
How are Americans gaining that much weight during the holidays?
Let’s look at some additional findings:
- 44 percent have eaten more than one Thanksgiving dinner on the same day.
- 30 percent have eaten to the point of feeling sick.
- 40 percent have devoured so much holiday food that they’ve needed to loosen a button on their pants.
- 79 percent said that they ate more sweets and treats at the end of the year.
On the bright side, a third of respondents have already planned their New Year’s resolutions, most of them aiming to exercise more and eat healthier.
The fact is, the holiday season doesn’t have to throw off a healthy lifestyle. Health is a long-term strategy, and you don’t have to put off your weight or health goals until next year.
How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays
Remember: 12 percent of respondents will make it through the holidays without any weight gain, and a good 55 percent have resolved not to abandon their healthy eating habits.
You, too, can do the same.
Here are six tips on how to survive the holidays without gaining weight:
1. Snack before the party.
It might sound counterintuitive, but snacking is a useful tool in combating overindulgence, albeit healthy snacking. Starving yourself before the festivities will cause you to overeat so consume protein-rich snacks before heading out to a holiday feast to help you feel full and prevent you from overindulging.
2. Focus on the people, not the food.
The holidays are about relationships, a time set apart for reconnecting with friends and loved ones. To make the most of these once-a-year moments, go meet and greet. Walk around, catch up with that distant cousin, play with your new nephews, or volunteer to clean up after. As a bonus, movement before and after the meal will help burn off calories!
3. Practice mindful eating.
So, you’re there at the party, and it’s time to eat. The first thing you should do is navigate the buffet table and consider your options. Mindful eating is all about knowing what you put into your body. Limit liquid calories such as alcohol and soft drinks, cut back on taste testing every dish, and savor every bite.
4. Watch your portion sizes.
If a smaller plate is available, choose that over a larger plate. Keep meals balanced with protein, and focus on foods with lots of fiber. While you don’t have to count calories during the party, be mindful of how much you eat. Definitely stop eating when you’re full. According to our holiday study, 30% of Americans overate to the point of getting sick!
5. Be accountable to someone.
Be confident and tell your friends and family about your health and fitness goals. Who knows? It can even be a great conversation starter. Staying on track can be hard, especially if you are tackling it on your own. Developing a support system of people who know your goals, strengths, and weaknesses can be extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially during the challenging times of the year.
6. Work out the next day.
If you’re guilty of a little overindulgence, work it off at the gym or go on a hike. If you’re visiting your hometown, what better way to enjoy it? Get a head start on your resolutions with a morning jog. If you’re hitting the gym, you’ll be in luck as there will be fewer people during the holiday season.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight During and After the Holidays
A healthy, active lifestyle is a long-term commitment – not something to turn on and off. But if you’ve been waiting all year to taste your mom’s homecooked dish, please don’t deprive yourself.
Enjoy your holidays. Just don’t go overboard.
While resolutions are a great way to kick start a healthy year, a healthy diet is a long-term solution that you’ll want and need to practice steadily – for days, weeks, and months – for lasting results.
For best results, stick to a balanced diet that isn’t overly restrictive, and combine it with consistent exercise to help achieve your healthy resolutions.