9 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays When Obese

From Thanksgiving all the way through to New Year’s, the holidays seem to bring with them an obstacle course of potential high-calorie bombs and less-than-ideal food choices. You know the routine: sitting and eating, sitting and eating. More sitting. More eating. Repeat.

This can be especially disheartening and hard to deal with if you have obesity; you may even find yourself dreading the holidays because of it. Here are some tips for breaking the cycle.


Keep the Sugar out of the House

Sweets of fresh pastry that is made
Yagi Studio/Getty Images

Don’t bring sweets home, and, if you’re hosting, let guests know ahead of time that you would rather they didn’t bring desserts over.

The consumption of added sugars has been identified as one of the leading causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Added sugars are found in candy, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit drinks, dairy desserts and milk products (such as ice cream), and cereals. According to the American Heart Association, major sources of added sugars in our diets are sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soft drinks and flavored milks. Most sweetened beverages and fruit drinks contain so much added sugar, in fact, that they have been referred to as “liquid sugar” by some experts.

Looking at that list, you’ll probably notice how many holiday desserts and treats fall into this category. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday buffet; just keep in mind when making your selections that you’ll generally be better off with savory than with sweet.


Eat Earlier in the Day

It’s a good idea to eat a healthy snack, or even a small, healthy meal, prior to heading out to a holiday party, dinner, or buffet. That way you’ll be less tempted to indulge in empty calories, and will eat less of them if you do, simply because you won’t be too hungry when you arrive.

But more than that, see if you can shift the majority of your calorie intake to earlier in the day. Research suggests that, when it comes to preventing weight gain, it really does matter what time of day you eat the majority of your calories. Eating earlier in the day is associated with losing more weight than eating most calories in the evening or late at night.


Stick to Your Regular Exercise Routine

Not only will keeping to a regular exercise routine lower stress and promote energy, but keeping up with regular exercise will help hold holiday weight gain at bay, too.

Try to get in your regular workout even when traveling or on holidays, and be sure to stand up and walk around after larger meals in particular. Staying in motion is key. And research has shown that walking for just 15 minutes after eating a meal can significantly improve blood sugar levels.

So, grab a friend or family member and go for a walk after that holiday dinner. At the very least, help with the dishes and the cleanup instead of heading straight for the couch to watch television!


Focus on Whole Fruits and Veggies

Study after study has shown that the more whole fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk for many chronic diseases, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease—including heart disease and stroke.

Fruits and vegetables constitute low-calorie foods. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is convincing evidence that eating fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of obesity. Compared to high-calorie foods, such as processed foods that are high in sugar and fat, fruits and vegetables are less likely to contribute to becoming obese or overweight.

And, because they contain higher amounts of dietary fiber and other nutrients, they are associated with a lower risk for diabetes and insulin resistance. For the same reasons, they also make people feel full and eat less, thus helping to prevent weight gain.

So, when you’re trying to make healthy food choices this holiday season, you can’t go wrong with vegetables and fruits. Just make sure they aren’t in a pie or casserole—that would, of course, defeat the purpose.


Walk Your Dog

Not only does this mean more quality and bonding time for you and your pooch, but research shows that your pet can, indeed, help you lose weight by increasing your activity levels.

Most studies have shown that people who care for pets tend to be more physically active, and, of all pets, dogs seem to encourage the greatest amount of physical activity.

Walking your dog often means you’ll take a longer walk than you would if you were on your own. In fact, research has found that having a dog is just what someone needs to support and motivate them to take frequent walks.

Walking your dog can also be a source of joy and a healthy way to find stress relief from the hectic whirlwind of the holidays.


Weigh Yourself Daily

Preferably first thing in the morning, every morning. You might think that this could be counterproductive because it may cause you to despair if you discover that your heavy meal the night before did, indeed, pack on the pounds. But on the contrary, weighing yourself daily can improve your long-term weight-loss progress, and there is plenty of research to back this up.

Weighing yourself daily enables you to catch a couple of pounds of weight gain before it becomes 10 or 20 pounds. It is all about awareness and empowerment—and knowing your numbers is the first step.

As mentioned above, research has found that those who weigh themselves daily lose significantly more weight than those who weigh themselves less frequently than every day.


Start a New Tradition

Most families have their own holiday traditions. See if you can make yours a healthy one. For instance, some families go on a New Year’s Day hike or participate in a Thanksgiving Day walk/run for charity.

If your family doesn’t already do this, think of a fun way that you can incorporate physical activity from which all will benefit. This is so important for children, too, particularly as childhood obesity continues to pose a major public health problem. Children learn by example, and you can help ensure that yours is an example that puts a priority on promoting and maintaining good health.


Keep It Simple

If you don’t already have a regular exercise routine, you can still be active during the holidays. It is as simple as putting on your shoes and going for a walk. Better yet, see if you can get a family member or friend to go with you, thus working in some quality face-to-face time while you burn calories and stay in motion.

An overwhelming amount of research has upheld the many health benefits of taking a daily walk. In fact, brisk walking is often cited as the best form of exercise for preventing weight gain. Walking is a simple and easy form of exercise that can help you lose weight, help you keep it off, and prevent you from gaining more.

For instance, researchers who analyzed data from the annual English Health Surveys from 1999 to 2012 concluded that a simple, brisk walk five days per week was better for keeping off the pounds than similar time spent doing other exercise activities.

Daily walking will also improve your overall mobility, keeping you more flexible and mobile overall. Staying active with brisk walking improves cardiovascular fitness, bone density, lung function, and even brain function—all of which translates into a better quality of life over the long run as well as increased longevity. What better gift to give yourself this holiday season?


Be Kind to Yourself

While being kind and generous to others this holiday season, be sure to do the same for yourself, too. Don’t beat yourself up if you “blow” your diet one day or if you go overboard on dessert at a party, or even if you turn to emotional eating during a particularly stressful time. What is important is to look to the future, remember that all is not lost, and simply pick up where you left off, eating healthfully next time and as many times after that as you can muster. It is the overall trend that matters in the long run.

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Article Sources
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