EATING SALTY FOODS
“Eating salty foods can contribute to water retention or ‘water weight,’ which may affect the number on the scale and make you feel bloated, but is not an accurate representation of long-term body composition. While it may seem counterintuitive, hydration can help with this.
Another thing that leads to water weight? Alcohol! Alcohol dehydrates our bodies, which can cause our bodies to hold onto water. This can cause the number on the scale to spike unexpectedly. If you’re celebrating over the holidays, drinking alcohol will likely happen. Rather than trying to cut it out entirely spacing out your drinks (or trying mindful drinking). Try to drink one glass of still or bubbly water between each alcoholic beverage, Alcohol has lots of calories and not many nutrients, so you’re better off consuming calories with nutritional benefit and limiting your consumption since it can lead to hunger and prevent your body from burning fat in a vicious cycle.
EFFICIENCY OF EXCRETORY SYSTEM
Believe it or not, going to the bathroom can affect the number on the scale. If you’re backed up (due to stress, travel, or something you ate), you might see an increase in weight. So, make sure you’re weighing yourself at the same time every day (in the morning right after you use the bathroom, for example).
If you’re currently menstruating, you may notice an unwelcome change on the scale. The hormonal fluctuations you experience during your period can actually cause water retention, which will impact the number on the scale. Keep in mind that this is temporary, and your weight will likely return back to what it was beforehand.
HOW TO AVOID HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
It is possible to stay on track over the holidays. In fact, it’s also possible to lose weight just by being mindful over the festive season. A study in the UK provided a behavioral intervention to a group of adults over the holiday season to prevent weight gain. They found that the group that received the intervention (which consisted of regular self-weight, weight management, and nutrition advice in the form of the amount of activity needed to offset food intake) actually lost weight (0.13 kilograms lost) compared to a control group that gained 0.37 kilograms.
Below are some expert tips on how to avoid holiday weight gain.
If you are attending a party later where you really want to try something delicious like someone’s famous eggnog or pie, go ahead and indulge. But earlier in the day, don’t also have a really calorie-dense meal. Simply look for a high protein, lower-calorie meal ahead of time and drink plenty of water.
BE CONSCIOUS OF PORTION SIZE
You may be tempted to load up on every delicious food in sight, but that only lends itself to accidental overeating. Instead, be mindful of your portion sizes. Take a small amount of everything. If you’re still hungry for more, you can go back. And, if you’re full, you can always take a little food to go (or save the recipe to make another time). Another trick? Fill your plate up with mostly veggies. This will prevent you from consuming too many salty, sugary, or fatty foods.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
When it comes to the holidays, many save their appetite for the big meal. But this can lead to overeating. What I recommend is eating a normal breakfast and lunch or a normal breakfast and dinner so that you aren’t so hungry going into the main meal. We all know there will be plenty of leftovers for days, so most of us don’t need to eat like this is the last time we’ll see food for the foreseeable future.
The key to staying healthy over the holidays? Keep moving. Go on walks with family, play active indoor games like charades, try a VR headset game, make silly TikToks, show someone your way of working out, or try someone else’s. Never stop moving—the more active you are, the more energy you will burn and you won’t need to concern yourself with overeating or weight gain.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GAIN WEIGHT OVER THE HOLIDAYS
If you gained weight over the holidays, remain calm. Now is not the time to do anything drastic. You should absolutely not exercise to ‘undo’ any decisions you have made or restrict yourself post-holidays. This not only creates a negative mindset around food and exercise as ‘punishment,’ but it also is not healthy to yo-yo back and forth and up and down around any holiday.
Focus on getting back into your normal workout routine, drinking enough water, and eating whole, unprocessed foods. If your digestive system needs a little help, you can also load up on detox foods. They’ll support your body’s natural detoxification process and supply your body with some much-needed nutrients.
Ultimately, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Remember that any weight gained can be lost over time (in a healthy way, of course). Weight gain is not something that will 100 percent happen over the holidays. It is important to have healthy habits and relationships with food all year—not just at the holidays.
In short, there’s no need to stress about seeing a change on the scale during the holiday season. It’s important to know it’s a time of year that weight gain can happen, but you should not stress about it and be prepared. One of the joys of food, aside from nourishing us, is the social and cultural connections it brings. Enjoy that time and the connections that food brings you.