It’s often reported that Americans gain five pounds over the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. However, on average, it’s really only one to two pounds.
The weight gain may be less than reported, but there’s still cause for concern, according to K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences specialist for northeast Kansas, Sharolyn Jackson.
“They’re not losing that weight after the holidays – it just accumulates year after year after year,” Jackson explained. “And so over time, that has a real negative effect.”
A holiday food buffet may be convenient, but it can pose a challenge for anyone trying to control how much they eat. A few strategies for not overeating include taking a look at what’s on the buffet before filling your plate, using a smaller plate, filling up more on fruit and vegetables, and taking smaller portions of the high-calorie foods of desserts and dips.
“And when you’re eating, try to eat slowly,” she advised. “And before you go back for seconds, try to let ten minutes pass so that your stomach has a chance to signal your brain that you’re full, if in deed you are.”
For a healthier holiday season, Jackson recommends getting plenty of rest, planning meals, and being physically active.
“Find some time for physical activity, even if it’s not as much as you usually do,” she suggested. “Think ahead and plan what you’re going to eat; and stick to your regular routine. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time so that your sleep pattern’s not completely disturbed, and those three right there will go a long way to help you navigate the holiday season in good health.”
Jackson says eating and drinking in moderation is the best way to avoid gaining weight during the holidays. Though that’s often easier said than done.