5 Tips for Weight Management over the Holidays
I love Easter! For me, it is a no-brainer; a holiday that comes with the same amount of public holidays as the Christmas break and yet a whole lot less wrapping, money spent, and pressure. Easter is an easy winner! One of my favourite parts of the holiday is that Easter often falls on the cusp of the seasons, so we are treated to endless blue skies with cool crisp mornings and evenings; perfect for baking, slow-cooked dinners, and movies. I will be honest with you all, anybody who knows me well will be aware that my love of Easter probably has a lot to do with the chocolate too. There are some things even a nutritionist will not give up, and chocolate has a firm place in my heart. In fact, my husband and I have both already put in our requests to the Easter Bunny just to make sure we are not to be left out of the egg-giving part of the holiday. Nobody is going to miss out on chocolate in our house.
Gaining weight over the holidays is common, particularly over Easter and Christmas. As we step out of routine and spend more time socialising, it is really challenging to maintain our normal habits whilst still enjoying ourselves. As a weight management specialist, one of my major concerns with the holiday season is the way we fall so easily into all-or-nothing dietary behaviours. We are bingeing during the holidays on Easter eggs and Christmas cake, to be closely followed by a period of strict dieting and over-exercise. This diet-induced weight-cycling is not only physically and emotionally exhausting; it is also associated with long-term weight gain and increased risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (1). So, with Easter just around the corner, I just wanted to share some advice I always give my patients during holiday periods to maintain balance and avoid weight gain.
Here are my top five weight management tips for the holidays
Studies show that regular contact, via phone or email during the holiday period results in reduced weight gain If you do not have a nutritionist that offers this service, then find a buddy who is one the same page as you in regards to weight loss or weight management. Maintain daily contact with them to keep you motivated and on the right track (2).
2) Balance your meals
I like to call it the PFF check, protein, fats and fibre. All of your meals ( and snacks!) should contain these macronutrients. Although technically fibre is not considered a macronutrient, it is essential for gut and physical health, as well as an important factor in modifying dietary behaviour associated with weight gain. The combination PFF will help to make us feel full and stop us from reaching for seconds. This aids aid in portion control and excess energy consumption.
3) Physical activity
The holidays are a time to wind down and spend with family and friends. This doesn’t mean that exercise has to go out of the window. Make plans to go walking with a group of friends, or grab your partner and check out the local neighbourhood. Whatever you do, aim for at least 45-60 minutes daily. Not only will this help reduce your stress and build your vitamin D stores, but it helps to balance the extra consumption associated with holidays.
The best way to keep yourself aware of how your dietary behaviours are impacting you is to regularly monitor your weight over the holidays. Studies have shown that those people who regularly weigh themselves loss more weight and adapt their behaviour back to normal eating behaviour. I am aware that there is a movement these days against using the scale, and in some cases, I definitely advise my patients not to weigh themselves; however, the majority of the population are not negatively physically nor psychologically impacted by regular weighing (3).
Meet your requirements
By making sure we meet our necessity we are not only nourishing our body’s, but we are essentially displacing room for other nutrient-devoid and energy-dense foods. So make sure that you meet your 2 + 2 + 5 requirements daily; 2 whole fruits, 5 different coloured vegetables and 2 litres of water.
I hope these tips help you to have a happy and balanced break.
1. Montani, J.P., Schutz, Y. and Dulloo, A.G., 2015. Dieting and weight cycling as risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases: who is really at risk?. Obesity Reviews, 16, pp.7-18.[Accessed: 15th March 2021] Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12251
2. Díaz-Zavala, R.G., Castro-Cantú, M.F., Valencia, M.E., Álvarez-Hernández, G., Haby, M.M. and Esparza-Romero, J., 2017. Effect of the holiday season on weight gain: a narrative review. Journal of obesity, 2017. [Accessed: 15th March 2021] Retrieved from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2017/2085136/
3. Zheng, Y., Klem, M.L., Sereika, S.M., Danford, C.A., Ewing, L.J. and Burke, L.E., 2015. Self‐weighing in weight management: A systematic literature review. Obesity, 23(2), pp.256-265. [Accessed: 15th March 2021] Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.20946