The best way to control weight is to learn how to eat intuitively and let your body find its natural set point. A variety of factors can influence your weight, including genes, family eating habits, medications and sleep patterns.
Exercise also appears to be key to controlling your weight. Research from the National Weight Control Registry supports this combination approach.
Limiting Holiday Meals
Holiday meals often feature a variety of foods, including those that are high in calories. For those who are trying to lose weight or control their weight, the holidays can pose a challenge. The good news is that you can enjoy a holiday meal without feeling guilty or overindulging.
The key is to eat mindfully, which is important for all meals. In addition, don’t skip meals leading up to the big meal, says nutrition professor Laura B. Frank, Ph.D., R.D. She also suggests limiting the number of plates you eat from and taking smaller portions.
Another helpful tool is incorporating some type of physical activity before or between meals. This can be as simple as a brisk walk or playing a game of football or basketball with family and friends. This will help to reduce your hunger levels and prevent overeating or making unhealthy choices later in the day. It can also reduce stress, which can lead to emotional eating.
Staying physically active helps reduce the risk of obesity, strengthens muscles and bones, lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, improves mental health and cognitive function, and provides energy. Physical activity may be difficult to achieve during the holidays, but it is important to try. Try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day, using a pedometer or other tracker, or walking around the block briskly (and making sure to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between individuals). You can also walk up and down the stairs, jump rope or use home cardio machines, or do a simple workout at home with videos that target each muscle group. Emerging research suggests that exercise may even enhance immune function during the coronavirus pandemic.
Avoiding Unhealthy Snacks
Snacks have a bad reputation, but if they are nutritious and in moderation they can provide the energy that one needs between meals. However, many snacks are high in sugar and fat, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Snacks should be made primarily from whole foods, low in salt and added sugar. Try to avoid processed food and opt for more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.
Trying to kick the junk-food snacking habit can be difficult, especially around holidays. Tasty, but unhealthy foods are part of many celebrations, from birthday cake to the occasional holiday treat like pumpkin pie. To help kick the habit, make healthier snacks more available in your home. Studies have shown that people snack more when the less-healthy snacks are readily available, so keep them in the cupboards where they are hard to reach. Another trick Rumsey suggests is changing the physical location of a snack, like moving the office candy bowl to somewhere it will require a ladder or step stool to access.