The holiday season is a joyful time full of family gatherings, celebrations and opportunities to reflect on the year gone by while looking forward to what the future holds. But temptations in the form of cookies, candy, popcorn and alcohol can derail even the healthiest of eaters. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for employers and business owners to help their employees stay on the path to health. Kaiser Permanente has a “Maintain Don’t Gain” toolkit that employers can download. It includes a “Healthy Holiday Pledge” for employees to sign, committing themselves to finishing the year on a positive and healthy note. The kit also offers email templates to promote the initiative and various methods for engaging and supporting employees through the journey.
Many of the strategies in “Maintain Don’t Gain” and similar programs can be replicated at work and at home. You don’t have to be a victim of the goodies that show up in the office or on your kitchen counter. Here are some tips to avoid excessive weight gain during the holiday season:
- Set concrete limits ahead of time. Don’t wait until you are face-to-face with your favorite goodies to decide how much you will consume.
- Apply the adage about not going to the grocery store when you’re hungry to parties. Eating some raw vegetables or a handful of nuts ahead of time can prevent overeating.
- Make socializing the primary objective—preferably far away from the food table—rather than eating.
- Cocktails contain more calories than you realize. Limit your alcohol consumption and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Three magic words: “No, thank you.” Hosts often associate eating and drinking with their guests having a good time, but feel free to politely turn down seconds.
- Eat slowly. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach and brain to sync up and alert you that you are full.
- Don’t eat just the sweet stuff. Proteins like seafood, chicken and turkey will help you feel full.
- Take time to really savor what you eat. Focusing on the flavors and prolonging the experience can help you enjoy everything more.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! It’s easy to get complacent when the weather is chilly, but even a quick walk around the block or running up and down the stairs is better than nothing. And the feel-good hormones can help you deal with seasonal stress.
- Set reasonable goals. Obviously, the holiday season is not a great time to start a new diet plan, but a food diary can help you figure out where any problems may be occurring.
- Find support. A close friend can keep you accountable and help you plan strategies ahead of time.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Temptations will be around every corner this season, so it’s highly likely that you will overindulge once or twice. Rather than punishing yourself, resolve to get back on track tomorrow.