During the holidays, you might be at a place where you have to attend endless end of year parties and other family gatherings. At these social events, food and drink is usually plenty. As a result, getting through the holidays to come out in the new year without having gained weight is a daunting task.

Studies show that holidays encourage too much sitting and overeating high-calorie foods. From mid-November to mid-January, most adults put on an average of 0.5 kgs.

But, it does not need to feel like it’s an uphill task to stave off the kilos. You can do it with proper planning and thinking through how you’ll handle every situation that may arise.

Below are 8 practical ways to stay lean and maintain your weight during the holidays:

1. Manage stress better

Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful. From travelling, shopping, and hosting friends and family can be tiring and exhausting.

You are more likely to eat junk when stress levels are high.

Do some gentle exercise like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing, to ease your stress levels. Keeping stress under control can help reduce weight gain because your body will not hold onto any unnecessary calories.

 2. Prioritize the order of the food you eat

Most meals over the holidays are usually rich in carbs. Always eat your protein and veggies first before any other food.  Eating protein will keep you full by reducing your appetite and hunger.

Make sure all your meals have more protein than the rest of the macro-nutrients. Stick to lean sources of protein like fish, chicken and beef or beans and other legumes.

As a result, you’ll end up eating less and you will be healthier by following this simple hack.

3. Drink lots of water

Soda, soft drinks, coffee or alcohol are not good for keeping your body well hydrated. They instead increase your appetite and weight.

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink at least 2 litres of water every day. If you walk a lot, then you’ll need to drink more.

Drinking enough water will help reduce the number of other non-water drinks you might have and thus cutting down on your total calorie intake. If you’re thirsty, go for plain water and nothing else.

Water will also help flush toxins from your body caused by too much booze you might have drunk during the end of year festivities.

4. Bring a healthy dish to the family dinner

Most family gatherings have meals that are heavy in carbohydrates. It is usually so difficult to find well balanced healthy meals on such occasions.

If you are a health freak and don’t want to eat at these events, make your own healthy dish and bring it to the gathering.

Other people will get a chance to have a healthy option to choose from and you will eat your own meal cooked with your own ingredients.

Plan in advance and find creative ways to stay healthy without seeming rude for refusing to eat whatever you’ve been offered or forcing yourself to eat what you don’t like.

5. Go for a walk after a big meal

Going for a 15-minute walk immediately after eating can:

  • Help with digestion.
  • Can help you connect with loved ones.
  • Can help break away from digital devices.

This is a perfect opportunity to add a bit of physical activity to your day. Eating and continuing to sit encourages more drinking and mindless snacking.

But when you get up and move, you reduce your chances of eating more because your brain gets an opportunity to switch from food other things.

6. Stop mindless eating

Mindless eating is eating without conscious thought or with your mind distracted by other things such as reading or watching a movie.

If you are distracted during your meals you will tend to overeat because you will not be able to pay attention to your body’s fullness signals.

Being mindful means being present by focusing on your food in the now. Slow down, chew and taste your food. Dot gobble down.

The easiest way to mindful and present when you are eating is to put your electronic devices or books away. Always sit down to eat and when done move on to another activity.

7. Reduce liquid calorie intake

It’s easy to drink than to eat 1000 calories of food in one sitting. Holidays provide a perfect opportunity for overdrinking even for people who don’t normally drink as much. Most people will wash down their lunches or dinners with soda or alcohol because that’s what is available.

These drinks are full of simple sugars which have no nutritional value to your body. To control your weight come January, limit the intake of these sugary beverages. If you want a drink after dinner then a glass of wine (not a bottle) is enough or a cup of green tea.

8. Get enough sleep

Partying day after day can lead to sleep deprivation and high levels of cortisol. Instead of catching up on sleep during holidays, you might find yourself more tired because of skimping on sleep.

If you don’t get enough sleep you tend to be hungrier and end up eating more food than you need. Research shows that lack of sleep increases appetite and there’s also a correlation between sleep and obesity.

So, use the holidays as a time to rejuvenate your body by getting more sleep than you usually do. You’ll feel fresh and ready to take on your work after the holidays.

Take Away

Staying lean and healthy during the holidays can seem like a tough undertaking. But, with prior planning and a bit of common sense, you can get to the new year with little to no damage to your health and waistline.