Registered dietitians reveal top tips to avoid Christmas weight gain

Meal-time traditions are a big part of celebrating the holidays, so it’s natural to want to set aside any worries about weight gain this time of year.

But that’s not always a recipe for success, Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietitian and author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club” told NBC TODAY.

“Holiday weight gain seems like an uninvited annual tradition, and many of us are already starting this holiday season with some extra kilograms as a result of quarantine eating,” she said.

While the average weight gain over Christmas is only around 1 kilogram, research suggests that overweight people may gain more.

Even if it isn’t a drastic increase, if it’s not addressed, studies suggest that these pounds lead to more significant weight gain — and related complications — over time.

Here are nine things dietitians say you can do to prevent those holiday kilos from creeping up on you.

1. Pay attention to signs of hunger and fullness

Harris-Pincus recommends enjoying your food and savoring your family favorites with portions that leave you satisfied but not stuffed. “It’s not a contest to see how much you can fit in during one meal,” she said, adding that it’s helpful to “pace yourself, slow down, chew thoroughly and really taste your delicious meal.”

2. Practice mindfulness meditation

On a similar note, Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and virtual plant-based performance nutrition coach, told NBC TODAY that she thinks the most important tactic to support balanced eating during the holidays (and year-round) is to practice mindfulness meditation. “Even five minutes a day has been shown to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone known to drive appetite, curb impulsive eating — and overeating — and heighten awareness of hunger and fullness cues.” If you’re new to meditation, Sass recommends an app, like Headspace or Calm, or searching for guided meditation videos on YouTube.

Registered dietitians reveal top tips to avoid Christmas weight gain Credit: Lesley Magno/Getty Images

3. Save the splurges for holiday celebrations

There’s no need for guilt when you’re enjoying your favorite desserts, but Harris-Pincus said you may be better off if you don’t eat them on repeat afterward. “Don’t be afraid to give away or throw out leftovers if they will negatively impact your health or mood,” she said.

Keri Gans, a registered dietitian, author of “The Small Change Diet” and podcast host of The Keri Report, agreed that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day doesn’t need to be a free-for-all. “Enjoy your favorite holiday foods on the actual holidays and try to resume your normal, healthy eating routine every other day in between,” she said.

4. Survey the scene

Amy Gorin, a plant-based registered dietitian in the New York City area, told NBC TODAY that being choosy can help. “My number one tip for the holidays is to survey the food at a party before you load up your plate,” she said. “At first glance, you might want the fried chicken, the gingerbread cookies, and the ice cream cake. But take a look at everything on offer. Then add the top few must-haves to your plate.” She also recommended filling only half your plate with your holiday favourites and then adding veggies or fruit salad to the other half. “You will likely be satisfied with tasting your favorite foods, but not trying everything that catches your eye.”

Registered dietitians reveal top tips to avoid Christmas weight gain
Registered dietitians reveal top tips to avoid Christmas weight gain Credit: VMJones/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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