So you broke your diet over the holidays… now what?
First of all, yes of course you did, just like everyone else. The holidays are a time meant to bring family and loved ones together, enjoy traditions, and make memories.
Many of these traditions and gatherings include eating delicious food.
Is much of that food “diet friendly”? Probably not. But do many of those foods have traditions and memories? Absolutely, and that’s important to honor as well.
While it’s totally normal to indulge a little more during the holiday season and festivities, if healthy habits are broken, you may feel a bit out of control and find it very difficult to get back into your routine.
Weight gain while on vacation
If you’re struggling with holiday weight gain or afraid it’s coming your way, you’re not alone. Weight gain during the holidays is a concern for many people; the question is, should it be so?
You can take solace in the fact that regardless of how you feel, you probably haven’t gained as much weight as you think.
Despite the common number of 5 to 10 pounds being shed, one study found that the average holiday weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Years was actually only about 0.37 kg, which is about 0. 8 pounds (1).
While this is not significant weight gain, it is likely to contribute to the annual weight gain many people accumulate year after year, so addressing it will be beneficial to your overall health and maintaining a healthy weight.
During the holidays, you may also be retaining a bit of extra water weight if you’ve been consuming more sodium along with carbohydrate-rich foods.
The goal is to create eating habits that allow you to enjoy “unhealthy” or less nutritious foods more often so that when you plentiful you don’t feel out of control and can enjoy things in moderation while maintaining your healthy habits.
But if you’ve felt out of control and still feel out of control, we’ve got some tips to restore balance a bit, get back to your healthy eating habits, and possibly lose or prevent weight gain.
Getting back to normal after eating at parties: 5 tips
Establishing and maintaining healthy habits is a lifelong effort. A few weeks is not going to make or break your progress. However, weeks can easily turn into months, and it can become increasingly difficult to get it back as time goes by and new habits are formed.
You don’t need a hard reset, fast, or cleanse to get back on track after holiday eating or to get rid of holiday weight gain, but you do need to start gradually changing your choices to support your health.
Get started with these 5 things to get back on your health and fitness routine and start moving in the right direction toward your goals.
1. Start with a nutritious meal
Often the gut reaction people have after overeating or breaking their diet is to restrict or try to go long periods without eating.
Unfortunately, this is so common that there are a few terms for it, such as the binge restriction cycle or yo-yo diet
Instead of trying not to eat or cutting portions in half, eat a well-balanced, filling meal. This will leave you feeling full and satisfied, making it easier to continue healthy eating habits.
Try to choose whole or minimally processed foods and include a lean protein source, a fiber-rich carbohydrate source, and a healthy fat source.
Looking for healthy food inspo for the holidays? Take a look at our healthy recipes to get you back on track after the holidays.
2. Get back into the exercise routine
Another common coping mechanism when you feel like the holiday blues or you’ve overindulged is to try to punish yourself by exercising too much.
This is not going to help your mentality or your body. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment, and this can wreak havoc on your hormones.
Your sleep, stress, and hormones can be a bit off after the holidays, and intense exercise can actually exacerbate these issues by increasing cortisol levels (two). This can make weight loss efforts even more challenging (3).
Instead, opt for low-to-moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, yoga, or light strength training, which can help reduce circulating cortisol. This will help you get back into your routine and you can gradually increase the intensity.
3. Cut back on alcohol
With frequent gatherings around the holidays, your alcohol consumption is likely to be a bit higher than normal.
Alcohol not only adds extra calories to your diet, but another side effect of alcohol that many people don’t think about is its effect on sleep. Poor sleep quality can have a cascading effect to cause hormonal and appetite changes that can make it even more difficult to follow healthy decisions.
By consuming alcohol, your body will also prioritize the metabolism of alcohol over other sources of energy because it is considered a toxin that can slow down the metabolism of food and affect your digestion.
Reducing your alcohol intake will go a long way toward helping you regain your health goals by supporting your sleep and metabolism and reducing your overall calorie intake.
4. Stay hydrated
With that extra alcohol and salt intake, as well as being out of your normal routine, you might be a bit dehydrated.
Staying hydrated is a key component of health and can support weight loss efforts.
Adding more water to your day is something that doesn’t require a lot of planning, aside from remembering to take your water bottle with you and opting for water over sugary drinks or alcohol.
Take a look at these 5 tips to increase your daily water intake.
5. Meal preparation
Meal prep takes the guesswork out of trying to eat healthy. By having something healthy already prepared and pre-portioned, you don’t have to choose takeout or fast food because your healthy food is there and ready to go.
Meal preparation is also one of the most effective habits to support weight loss efforts.
Don’t feel like preparing meals? Leave it to the professionals and outsource the food prep. Trifecta will offer healthy, macro-balanced meals designed by chefs and approved by dietitians.