10 Tips to Help Beat Weight Gain over the Festive Season

The DA Team 31 August 2020

The festive season an exciting time of year. But between the parties, stress and baked goods, it's also a time when people tend to gain weight.

According to research, adults tend to gain an average of five to seven pounds over the festive season.

This may not seem like a lot, but most people don't lose the weight they gain. For this reason, festive weight gain is one of the biggest contributors to total yearly weight gain for many people.

The good news is that weight gain during the festive season not inevitable.

Here are 10 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the festive season.


  1. Be Active With Family and Friends

Inactivity may contribute to weight gain especially when lounging around is accompanied by eating excessive amounts of food.

Doing some type of physical activity over the festive season with your family may prove to be beneficial for weight control.

An activity as simple as a family walk can provide benefits, as it will get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.


  1. Be Smart When Snacking

During the festive season, unhealthy snacks like biscuits and other goodies tend to be available for you to take as you please.

When treats are easy to access, unnecessary snacking is more likely to occur.

At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of sight. However, that strategy is more difficult to avoid in situations that you cannot control, such as your workplace or a family dinner party.

You can overcome these situations by being mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself snacking just because there's food available — and not because you're hungry — then it's best to avoid snacking altogether.

However, if you are hungry and need a snack, opt for real foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are filling snacks that don't contain added sugars or unhealthy fats, both of which can lead to weight gain.


  1. Watch Your Portion Sizes

When the festive season arrives, it can be easy to overdo it on your portion sizes.

Those who eat larger-than-recommended portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don't.

The best way to overcome this is to weigh and measure your food, or eat off smaller plates.

If you're in a situation that leaves you unable to measure portions, use your best judgment to fill your plate with a reasonable amount of food.


  1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation is quite common during the festive season, and it may cause weight gain.

This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity.

The reason behind this is that sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.

Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This is believed to be due to alterations in your circadian rhythm, which is known as the biological clock that regulates many bodily functions.


  1. Control Your Stress Levels

Keeping up with the demands of the festive season can be stressful.

Those who are stressed commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that's released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.

Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.

For these reasons, it's important to keep stress levels under control throughout the entire year, but especially during the festive season when you might be busier and be surrounded by unhealthy foods.

There are plenty of things you can do during the holidays to reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.


  1. Keep Meals Balanced With Protein

Holiday meals are typically rich in carbohydrates but lack protein.

However, it's important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.

In fact, eating protein with meals may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite.

Protein is also beneficial for weight control because it boosts your metabolism levels of appetite-reducing hormones.

Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa. Ensure your festive meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.


  1. Choose Desserts Wisely

Dessert is everywhere during the festive season. This often leads to excessive sugar consumption, a common cause of weight gain.

Instead of eating every treat in sight, it can be helpful to focus on your favourites. Eat the ones you really want and ditch the rest.

Another trick is to savour the desserts you do indulge in, which may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo dessert.

To savour desserts, eat them slowly so you can really taste and enjoy them.


  1. Limit Liquid Calories

The festive season is a time of year when alcohol, fizzy drinks and other sweetened beverages seem to be unlimited.

These drinks can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain.

Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.

If you're trying to control your weight, it is best to limit liquid calories over the festive season where possible — and all year long, for that matter.


  1. Weigh Yourself Regularly

Stepping on the scale regularly during the festive season may help prevent weight gain.

In some studies, people who weigh themselves regularly are able to maintain or lose weight better than those who do not weigh themselves.

Do what works best for you when it comes to weighing yourself. Some find it beneficial to check their weight daily, while others are successful weighing themselves once or twice a week.


  1. Skip Seconds

Meals over the festive season are often served in a buffet style, with several options to choose from in unlimited amounts.

This leads people to serve themselves seconds — and maybe even thirds.

The calories from double helpings can add up and contribute to weight gain.

To overcome this, assess your hunger when you finish your first plate. If you're still hungry, have a little more food. If you're not, then you've probably had enough and can move on to enjoy other aspects.