How to avoid weight gain over the holiday season
Already dreading the end of year celebration period? Do you always feel like you get to January and your clothes are just that little bit tighter? Why does weight gain seem to happen so easily over the festive season?
The end of year period can be a busy one for many people- whether it be a festive season or a celebration for the end of the working year, many people have a hectic schedule that has many gatherings with friends, family and work colleagues.
With many celebrations and gatherings now spilling well over into November, the end of year period for some can seem like running a gauntlet!
I find that many patients follow the ‘all to nothing’ way of thinking at the end of the year; either they say there are too many functions they need to go to that they are too busy to ‘be healthy’, or they decline invites to social events because they are afraid they will not be able to ‘stick to their diet’.
Both these ways have the potential to be damaging to health as they can promote unrealistic and unhealthy eating practices.
What we want to aim for is an enjoyable end of year festive season without food and weight anxiety; balanced eating habits where we enjoy foods and different tastes in moderate amounts is what we want to aim for. This can lead to more positive feelings and a happier and healthier relationship with food, rather than negative feelings of failure etc.
While you may be thinking that this sounds too hard or complicated it isn’t as much as you think, it is just a move way from ‘dieting’ thinking.
Here is what you can do:
- Aim for weight maintenance– weight loss can be hard anytime, let alone a time at the end of the year when there are many events that revolve around food. Aiming to maintain your weight is an important goal for this time of year.
- Seek the advice of a professional– many people cancel their appointments or don’t book any in towards the end of the year as the weeks get busy and health ends up further towards the bottom of the to do list. However this is the time help is needed most. Touching base with professionals likes dietitians can help you stay on track as it gives you a chance to ask questions and discuss what you have coming up and develop together an individualised plan that takes into account your personal scenario. It also can keep you accountable – just think about how your behaviour changes when you know you are going to see a healthcare professional!!!!
- Watch out for those extras- Nibbles, canapes, Christmas baking… we all eat a little extra in between meals and while it is important to enjoy yourself, try new foods and eat foods you may not normally have, nowadays there are many more gatherings, functions and parties than many years ago which means we eat more of these sorts of foods than our parents or grandparents may have at this time of year. All the energy in these extras can add up and if we are consuming more energy than we need then that can promote weight gain.
- Keep moving– as our schedules start to fill up, physical activity can be one of the first things to go when it is one of the most important things we should be doing over the festive season. Why you ask? One, it burns energy which is important especially if you are consuming more energy than usual. Secondly, it can help reduce stress and give you some time to yourself during these busy weeks at the end of the year. And most importantly it can help you keep a routine; when January roles around it wont seem such a daunting task to ‘start again’ with your exercise routine as you will have been doing it all along.
- Don’t forget that beverages contain energy– alcoholic beverages, juices, coffees, mocktails and soft drinks all contribute to your daily energy intake. And so if you are drinking more of these then you will be raising your intake of energy. Just remember to treat these as small snacks and not discount their contribution to your daily energy intake.
- Plan ahead and get organised– even though your schedule is getting busy don’t forget to plan ahead, organise your meals and try and eat as many homemade meals as possible. When you don’t plan ahead then chances are you will need to buy food out (which means bigger portion sizes, more fat, salt and sugar) and then you are not only eating more food out from going to social events, but also everyday meals as well. All this can mean more energy dense foods and larger portion sizes are consumed.
If you think you could use some assistance over the next two months navigating the end of year season then we can help you. Remember this time is to be enjoyed with friends, family and colleagues, and a time to have some well deserved time off.