Ten science-backed ways to avoid holiday weight gain

Ten science-backed ways to avoid holiday weight gain

By Grace Cherian 1. Eat before drinking and celebrating. Skipping breakfast or lunch in order to “save your appetite” probably isn’t the best weight-m...

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By Grace Cherian

1. Eat before drinking and celebrating.
Skipping breakfast or lunch in order to “save your appetite” probably isn’t the best weight-maintenance tactic. Not eating until the afternoon may lead to binging later on. Stick to a reasonably sized breakfast with plenty of protein, which will keep you fuller longer and control the urge to stuff your face later.

2. Pick protein.
As just mentioned, protein can help maintain a healthy weight because high-protein diets are associated with greater satiety. It’s also important for healthy muscle growth. Make sure to serve up some turkey, roasted chicken, or prepare animal-free alternatives like quinoa, lentils, or beans.

3. Bring your own.
Rather than try to figure out what’s in every dish at a friend’s party (or avoid eating altogether), bring a healthy side dish or dessert. Taste what you want, but know you have a healthy alternative to fall back on.

4. Eat and chew slowly.
Eating slowly may not be easy when appetizer options are endless, but it pays off to pace yourself. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. So slow down and take a second to savour each bite of baked brie or scoop of spiced nuts.

5. Fill up on fibre.
Snacking on vegetables and other high-fibre items like legumes can help keep us fuller longer. Give the vegetable platter a second chance with a healthy, tasty dip.

6. Use smaller plates.
Plate sizes have expanded significantly over the years. Whenever possible, choose the smaller salad plate (8-10 inches) instead of a tray-like one (12 inches or more). Using smaller plates can actually make us feel fuller with less food. The brain associates a big white space on the plate with less food (and smaller plates generally require smaller portions).

7. Make room for (healthy) fats.
Cutting butter and oil can slash calories (and it’s easy to use foods like applesauce, avocado, banana, or flax to bake holiday goods!), but not all fats are bad fats. We need fat in our diets to provide energy and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus fat helps us feel full.
Get healthy from avocadoes, nuts, and olive oil. Combining fat with fibre—like dipping veggies in guacamole—has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.

8. Avoid added sugar.
Holiday cookies, cakes, and pies are very tempting, but all that added sugar may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and try small tastes of the desserts you’re truly craving rather than loading up a full plate of bland cookies.

9. Sneak in the veggies.
Munching on vegetables has long been recognized as a way to protect against obesity. Mix puréed veggies (like pumpkin) into baked goods or casseroles, or sneak them into pasta or potato dishes. Adding veggies increases fibre, which helps make us fuller.

10. Just say “No.”
Though your relatives may encourage overeating by shoving seconds onto a cleaned plate, it’s okay to respectfully decline. “I’m full” or “I’m taking a break” should be enough for friends and family members to back off (and give you time to decide if you’d really like more).