Healthy eating during the holidays can be tough — especially when you’re faced with once-a-year temptations like grandma’s famous pumpkin roll or your mom’s secret-recipe stuffing. Letting yourself go for just a couple of days during the magical holiday season doesn’t seem like such a crime, until you step on the scales and realize that your extra helping of pumpkin pie is here to stay.
Even with the promise of New Year’s resolutions around the corner, most people tend not to get their holiday weight off, according to the Calorie Control Council. In fact, the average American gains 1 to 3 pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Those who are already overweight gain even more — up to 5 pounds.
In order to help you from falling into the unhealthy holiday weight gain trap, we asked Betsy Moore, founder of Jump Start Health Challenge, how to stay on track during the holidays. Jump Start Health Challenge is an online program that provides members with tools to track progress on 12 daily healthy habits and offers cash prizes to the top winners of each challenge. We also asked other locals what they do to keep healthy habits throughout the holidays. Here’s what they had to say:
Make a food and fitness plan and commit yourself to stick to it. You know what your weaknesses are, so plan now on what you will or will not allow yourself to do (limit treats to two per week, exercise five times per week, etc). Consider writing out a contract that you will keep with yourself. Post it in a place where you’ll see it daily to help remind you of your goal to stay healthy even when things get hectic.
Eat a small, healthy snack or meal before you go to holiday dinners, parties or events where less-than-healthy food will likely be served. This will make you feel full faster so you have less desire for the foods that tempt you.
Never give up! Don’t let yourself slip into thinking, “Well, I’ve already blown it, so what the heck!” Every day is a new opportunity to try again, even if you’ve done less than perfectly in the past.
Join a health challenge. Having a structured program with built-in competition can be a powerful motivator to establish healthy habits. Jump Start Health Challenge, for example, provides you with tools to track your progress on 12 healthy habits and awards cash prizes to winners.
Erika Coleman, Provo:
Have a support system! My company does a “maintain, don’t gain” challenge this time of year. We have to report our weight to a team captain every week. We have prizes at the end, but my main motivation for being good is knowing I have to own any little change when I report it to my captain.
Danny Potter, Provo:
I find that working out, eating right and watching my portions tends to make me want to keep it up. When I am doing things right, temptations aren’t as much of a temptation. I also find that if I fill my plate before I eat, I feel like I have made a commitment to eat it all. Just taking one or two dishes at a time works much better for me. Lastly, just say no to the idea that it’s OK to cheat on your usual eating habits just because this is the holidays. It’s easy to make excuses just because some of these dishes are only available at holiday time.
Allow yourself one small serving of each of your favorite treats and foods, but set yourself a limit of no seconds. That way you shouldn’t feel too deprived, but you won’t make yourself feel sick either.