Several studies show that that between mid-November and mid-January, people tend to gain the most weight and this may even be one of the biggest contributors to your total annual weight gain. However, you need not despair as evidence suggests that festive season weight gain can be counteracted by making little tweaks to your lifestyle and regular habits. Jyoti Dabas, founder of INFS, Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences, suggests a few effective tips that can help you navigate the festive season without putting on any unnecessary weight.
1. Stay active
“Increase your NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is a fancy name given to the amount of energy expended as we talk, walk, stand, tidy the house, run errands, or even fidget. So if you are not able to do your planned exercise routine, stay active and do your chores,” says Jyoti. You can keep yourself busy with festive cleaning, walking, and throw in some fun activities like dancing with family and friends. You can also sign up for workplace or community fitness events online.
2. Ensure that your protein intake is on point
Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs and low in protein. So, it's important to eat protein in every meal because it keeps you satiated. This will help you avoid hunger pangs and later binging on unhealthy food. “For these weight-management benefits, you should include at least 20-25 grams of protein in each meal. Some great sources of protein include foods like soya, paneer, and eggs,” adds Jyoti.
3. Stick to home-cooked food
Rather than ordering online, prepare food at home. During the festive season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be available at your fingertips. When treats are easily accessible, you’re more likely to snack unnecessarily. “So, start by keeping treats out of sight. If you are hungry or craving a snack, opt for less calorie-dense foods like fruits and vegetables. You will find it easier to limit yourself and also they don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats, both of which can cause weight gain,” advises Jyoti.
4.Be mindful of what you eat and watch your portions
Opt for a smaller plate, this will help you moderate the food you eat at one go. Refrain from reaching out for a second helping as this can add to unnecessary calorie intake. “Educate yourself about calories in the common food items that you come across in this festive season. The idea is not to get scared but to be mindful,” says Jyoti.
5. Watch what you drink
Alcohol, fruit juices and other calorie-rich beverages are an intrinsic part of festivities nowadays. Although these drinks seem harmless while celebrating, you’ll be surprised to know that they contain a lot of calories. Jyoti says, “a single serving of your favourite soft drink has more than 150 calories depending on how much you consume! These drinks can add a significant amount of empty calories to your diet, which in turn causes weight gain. You can opt for diet versions of the soft drinks, but for some people, the fizzy drinks can also cause digestive distress, and are best avoided. Additionally, alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.”
6. Be careful of that 'one bite' of everything that comes in sight
Many people spend a lot of time cooking and baking during the festive season. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to weight gain because it’s easy to taste-test every dish. We know that tasting your dishes is important, especially if you’re cooking for others, but a tiny nibble is probably more than enough.
7. Plan, and distribute calorie intake smartly
If you have a dinner planned for the evening, you can compensate by eating a low-calorie but filling lunch. Some examples are a hot salad with tofu for protein, a wrap of soybeans and green salad. This will help you keep your overall calories in check. Another trick is to already have your dinner from home before heading out! If this seems too extreme, instead you can opt for a small protein snack to avoid feeling famished at the party. Remember to educate yourself about the calories and protein content of commonly accessible food items.
While staying on top of your weight goals can feel daunting during the festive season, multiple tips and tricks can help keep you healthy, happy, and weight-conscious during this time of year. “Beyond general dietary measures, you must make sure that you’re exercising and limiting your intake of festive treats. If you’re diligent, you may find that you have not only prevented weight gain but even shed some extra weight during this celebratory season,” concludes Jyoti.