For many, the holiday season is synonymous with weight gain. There are so many more opportunities for overindulgence in food and alcohol while enjoying the company of family and friends. Even the most experienced weight controller can be derailed during the holidays and end up with a few extra pounds. On Christmas day alone, an individual might eat as much as 6000 calories! That’s three times the recommended daily allowance. However, by following a few simple tips, you can curb your overindulgence and stop the pounds from piling on at Christmas.
A new study published in the British Medical Journal shows that when people weigh themselves daily, monitor food intake and track how much physical activity is needed to burn off extra calories from their favorite holiday foods they are able to get through the holiday season without gaining weight.
The study was carried out in 2016 and 2017, with participants weighed and measured in November and December each year and then follow-up measurements were taken in January and February 2017 and 2018. There were 272 participants in the study.
Half received only general information about leading a healthy lifestyle. This group was called the comparison group.
The intervention group— the other half, was asked to weigh themselves at least twice per week, but ideally every day, and record their weight.
To encourage mindful eating, they were asked to maintain a food and beverage diary.
They were also given 10 top tips for weight management and a list of how much physical activity would be needed to burn off calories found in favorite foods and drinks eaten at Christmas.
For example, it takes 60 minutes of gardening to burn the 330 calories in a slice of sweet potato pie, 30 minutes of swimming laps to burn the 260 calories in 1 cup of stuffing and 30 minutes of golf to burn ½ cup of eggnog.
The results showed that on average, participants in the comparison group gained almost a pound over Christmas, but participants in the intervention group did not. In fact, those in the intervention group actually lost about one-third of a pound.
“On overage people gain a small amount of weight of up to 1kg [about 2 pounds] each year and holidays such as Christmas are responsible for most of the annual weight gain,” Professor Amanda Daley with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, said in a press release.
“Weight gained during holiday periods often is not subsequently lost and, although these gains are small, over 10 years, they would lead to a significant increase in body weight.”
The 10 tips for weight management are tips you can benefit from all year long.
• Eating roughly the same time each day
• Choosing reduced-fat foods
• Walking 10,000 steps each day
• Choosing healthy snacks
• Reading food labels
• Controlling portions
• Standing up for 10 minutes out of every hour
• Choosing water or sugar- free beverages
• Slowing down and practicing mindful eating
• Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day
Remember, the following strategies are proven to curb overindulgence during the holidays and prevent weight gain.
(1) Weigh yourself at least twice per week—ideally every day, and record it.
(2) Monitor food and drink intake by keeping a daily food diary.
(3) Keep track of how much physical activity is needed to burn off calories in food and drinks consumed.