4 Ways to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Be mindful of your eating habits during the holidays

An Asian family sits down for a Thanksgiving meal including potatoes, bread and fruit. San Diego Health Magazine

Be mindful of your eating habits during the holidays

Many people seem to think they have a free pass to eat and drink whatever they want during the holidays since their New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds will compensate for overindulging. 

It sounds good in theory, but the pattern of “pass the pie” December followed by “lean and mean” January could be detrimental to your health. 

“Yo-yo dieting can be bad for our health because the brain adapts our hormones to what it thinks our weight ‘should be,’ and that's generally our peak weight,” says Mitch Biermann, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley

“So, people who gain and then lose weight don’t have the same gut hormone levels and metabolism as someone who was at that lower weight to begin with. That leads to a vicious cycle that pushes people to higher and higher weights as they get older.” 

Fortunately, there are ways to be mindful about eating habits during the holidays and still enjoy celebrations, says Dr. Biermann. 

1. Find food allies

Enlist the help of a couple friends or family members and keep each other accountable. Plus, when it comes to parties, there’s influence in numbers. Just like a host would feel more pressure if there were three vegetarians in the family instead of one, they’d think more about healthy alternatives if they knew there were multiple people with concerns. 

2. Drink in moderation

Just because you’re limiting alcohol doesn’t mean you have to feel like you’re missing out. Try to stay under the National Institutes of Health guidelines of not more than one drink per day for women and two for men. 

Consider learning more about the sober curious movement to cut down on drinking.

3. Ignore the labels

Move beyond thinking of foods as “good” or “bad” and adopt a more holistic view of diet and exercise. While nothing is exactly off limits, keep your overall food consumption and energy expenditure in mind. 

4. Think big picture

Preventing a problem is better than trying to fix it later. It's most effective to avoid gaining weight during the holidays in the first place.

San Diego Health Magazine Winter 2023 Cover

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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