During the holiday season–pretty much all of November and December–it’s really easy to overeat.  And invariably, overeating, plus a little less activity, a little less sunlight, a little more stress, and some other factors all lead to weight gain.

The average American has a net gain of 1.5lbs per holiday season. That means even with New Year’s Resolutions and January fitness and healthy eating commitments, after 5 years the average American has gained 7.5 pounds just from holiday eating!

Why Do We Overeat During the Holidays?

  • Stress. Stress leads to emotional eating, stuffing feelings, and trying to cope by eating more.
  • So much food. There’s more food around than normal and we feel obligated to finish it, lest it ‘go to waste.’
  • Special holiday treats. Telling yourself, “I only get these treats/foods/desserts at this time of year, so I need to enjoy them now.”
  • Deserve a ‘break’ from your diet.  You’ve stuck to your diet for the first 10-11 months of the year, so now you feel you have earned the right to relax and take a break from your diet.
  • It’s only a little. You tell yourself, “its only once a year, I can afford to indulge a little.”
  • Memories. You have memories–good and bad–associated with the holidays, food, and gatherings and you try to recreate (or avoid) those feelings with food.
  • Because its there. Everywhere: office parties, kids school, holiday parties, and family dinners.

Strategies to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

  • Rest. When you’re overworked, over-stressed, or overtired, you’ll tend to eat more (sugary things) to keep your energy up. That’s your body’s signal to embrace the longer, darker nights and sleep a little more.  Sleep also benefits the detoxification pathways and the metabolic system.
  • Drink a hot cup of Belight Tea before you go out in order to curb snacking. Or, better yet, bring some with you and grab some hot water at the event–just having something in your hands keeps them occupied, instead of picking at food.
  • Don’t make holiday treats if you’re tempted to eat all of them.  If you must make something (for a party, kids’ school, etc), make something you don’t like so you won’t be tempted to eat it.
  • Indulge in a favorite pastime instead of a favorite food. Take a bath, read a book, go dancing, play with your kids or the dog, enjoy the holiday lights.
  • Make a plan ahead of time. For example, if you have 5 holiday parties to go to in the next 7 days, choose ahead of time which you’ll drink at (and have a DD) or which you’ll have a few treats at, instead of trying to eat your way through the dessert table at all of them.
  • Breathe. Take a few centering, deep breaths to determine how hungry you are and what your body is truly hungry for before encountering any food.
  • Don’t keep treats in the house. If the hostess asks you to take something home, politely decline. Or accept, then drop them at the nearest food bank on your way home.
  • Take time for yourself. When you feel you deserve a break, make that a break from tackling your to-do list or hitting the mall, not a ‘break’ from your diet.
  • Position yourself away from the food. Enjoy the atmosphere and festivities on the opposite side of the room.

Taken together, these strategies will help you make better decisions, enjoy the holidays, maintain your waistline, and have comfortable digestion, instead of frequently loosening the belt; that way, you won’t need to work so hard on your New Year’s Resolutions come January.

Tell us in the comments: what do you do to keep fit and healthy during the holidays?