For many of us, the holidays are almost synonymous with overindulgence. Starting with Thanksgiving through to New Year's Eve, our intake of calories skyrockets. Come January 1st, we're regretting it all.
But, it doesn't have to be this way. You can enjoy the holidays and be healthy at the same time. Follow our tips to keep your calorie intake down, and you can thank yourself come New Year's Day 2020.
The extent of the problem:
On average, U.S. adults gain 0.4% of their weight over Christmas, which equates to about one pound in weight gain.1 While that might not seem like a lot, to shift 1 pound, you need to burn around 3500 calories.2 That's a lot of time on the treadmill! Left unaddressed, year-on-year weight gain can cumulate to the point of obesity - which is linked to dangerous chronic conditions such as heart disease,3 liver disease,4 and type 2 diabetes.5
Tip 1: Rethink your buffet etiquette.
When you see a whole table of food, it's easy to get over-excited and just load up on absolutely everything. But try a different approach. Before putting anything on your plate, look over all of your options and reduce the portion sizes of the foods you really want to try. Make sure to include some vegetables in the mix, and try not to come back for seconds.
Tip 2: Choose a smaller plate.
Many people finish what's on their plate, despite feeling full halfway through the meal. The easiest fix is to choose a smaller plate. Your portion will be smaller but will appear larger. Genius.
Tip 3: Beware the liquid calories!
When we consider our calorie intake, it's easy to overlook the calories in our drinks. A small (145ml) glass of white wine contains around 128 calories, and a bottle of craft beer can contain up to 350 calories.6
Tip 4: Load up on vegetables and fruit.
Not only are fruits and vegetables highly nutritious, but the fiber they contain is also a great filler, and will prevent you from overindulging in calorie-dense food.
Tip 5: Keep the snacks out of reach.
It's easy to mindlessly munch your way through snacks that are in arms reach. Don't put snacks out unless guests are around, and even then, keep them well out of your reach. The same applies if you're at a party with a buffet table.
Tip 6: Share your gifts.
Chocolate and cookies are go-to gifts at Christmas. If you have been given food as a present, consider bringing it into work and sharing it with your colleagues. You don't get the calories, and as a bonus, everyone thinks you're super generous. Reconsider gifting food to people who might be watching their weight over the holidays.
Tip 7: Leftovers.
It's easy to overestimate how much food you and your guests will eat over Christmas. If you are left with a lot of extra food, don't feel obliged to eat it all quickly. Freeze anything that can be safely frozen, or invite friends around to your place in the days after your celebrations and share.
So, there you go. A few top tips for keeping your weight and waistline in check over the holidays. Don't forget to stay active too – get out and go people watching as you take a walk round the block and take in the Christmas atmosphere.
Enjoy yourself, stay healthy, and Happy Holidays from all at BronxDocs!
1. Helander, E et al. “Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries” (2016) N Engl J Med. 2016; 375:1200-1202
4. Perumpail, Brandon J et al. “Clinical epidemiology and disease burden of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 23,47 (2017): 8263-8276. doi:10.3748/wjg.v23.i47.8263