how to avoid gaining weight over the holidays

How to Not Gain Weight Over Christmas

The holiday season brings a lot of joy, and a lot of food. Rich, sugary, fatty food. It’s so delicious in the moment, but by January 2nd, regret can set in. When we overindulge on the wrong foods, we can wind up feeling moody, bloated and sluggish. Of course, we should enjoy some treats without too much guilt—but what can we do to avoid a holiday treat hangover?

“This is a tough time of year to stick with a healthy lifestyle – there’s lots of sweets and alcohol,” says Victoria Chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie. “I don’t advise anyone not to indulge, but to do it in moderation, so that they don’t later regret over-indulging.”

Dr. Louie often advises her patients on nutrition and offers the following tips for keeping holiday weight off while still getting to indulge in the flavours of the season.

  1. Everything in moderation– When you fill your plate with candied yams, mashed potatoes and buttery stuffing, add a smaller scoop of each. A little goes a long way.
  2. Add lots of colour- Start with vegetables. Add your salad, fresh raw or steamed veggies and then add your turkey or ham, potatoes and calorie-laden sides. Eat the vegetables first with a small amount of dip. Fresh veggies lose their health quotient quickly when they’re dripping in sugary salad dressings and dips.
  3. Snack beforehand– Again, turn to the fresh fruits and veggies before you go out. This will help control your appetite and keep you from overloading on appetizers and desserts.
  4. Enjoy it– Eat slowly and really savour the treats. This will help you eat consciously and stay aware of how much you’re really eating. You’ll also want to eat slowly to prevent taking in too much air which can cause bloating.
  5. Don’t snack after 7– Mindless snacking in front of the tv can be the worst enemy for your waistline. Not only are you probably eating mindlessly and unaware that you’re actually full, you might not be making the best choices. Popcorn, chips, crackers and sweets can very easily ruin a day of otherwise balanced eating.
  6. Keep up with exercise– Enjoy a daily walk with the family and explore local trails if weather permits. Exercise doesn’t have to be structured either. Take a walk, shovel the driveway or get everyone out on their bikes. See our post Healthy for the Holidays: Making Exercise Easy for more ideas. Remember, it’s about the quality rather than the quantity. Even a short 15 minute burst of activity can fight lethargy and mental fatigue.
  7. Set a goal– Even better, set a goal for something you want to achieve by New Years’ Eve. No need to wait for the new year to start crushing goals! Five-minute plank? Hold a perfect child pose? Jog 5 km? The holiday break is the perfect time to focus on you!
  8. Buddy up– Accountability can be huge for sticking to wellness goals. When you promise each other you’ll be there, chances are, you will be.
  9. Add fun accessories to your gift list– Resistance bands, running socks, fitness journal, sporty headbands, an awesome new water bottle or even a Fitbit can all help make it that much easier to stay on track.
  10. Drink warm lemon water– Warm water with lemon helps to flush toxins out of the body and keep your immune system at its peak. It can also help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. If you have overindulged, warm lemon water will help you feel better.
  11. Drink plenty of water– When you feel hungry, have a glass of water first. You may just be thirsty.
  12. Have a good breakfast. A filling breakfast can power you for the day, making you less likely to reach for empty-calorie snacks.
  13. Keep your fridge stocked– Be prepared for meals, so you don’t have to resort to take-out and restaurant eating on busy days. A good trick is to keep a divided platter fully stocked with fresh cut fruits and veggies. It also helps to keep quick snacks like boiled eggs, nuts and seeds on hand. Not sure what else to stock up on? See our list of 10 easy to find superfoods here.
  14. Watch your alcohol intake and opt for lower-sugar/carb options– There’s a huge variety of lower sugar and lower carb drink options, which can help to keep those empty calories away from your waistline while letting you enjoy a drink. For a non-alcoholic option, pair seltzer water with cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge and fresh cranberries.

Above all, take it easy on yourself- Don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge or your pants feel a little tight – 2020 has been an exceptionally long year and we all need a breather.

“Emotional stress can be as harmful as physical stress on the body, bringing about physiological changes in the gut, muscles and joints,” says Dr. Louie. “Outside of these holiday parties, try to eat clean and be self-disciplined and then allow yourself a cheat day to enjoy what you want to eat.”

Whether that means adding an extra stress-busting run to your day or having a glass of eggnog with an extra cookie, do what you need to do to relax. If you deprive yourself completely, you might wind up binging later, so enjoy everything in moderation.

At Mind Body Spine, Dr. Louie takes a holistic approach to healing that includes chiropractic treatment, nutrition counselling, exercise and positive thinking. To learn more about chiropractic care and wellness, browse the Mind Body Spine blog. If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort, contact Dr. Louie today. She will work with you to develop a treatment plan, exercise regime and even provide sound nutritional advice.