How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
The festive season is a fabulous time – family, friends, presents, good times to be shared and memories to be made. But it can also be a challenging time if you’re trying to lose weight.
In fact, never mind losing weight – how do you avoid gaining weight over the festive season?
End-of-year work parties, family gatherings, Christmas feasts – food (and lots of it!) seems to be everywhere. In addition, it can be tempting to let your regular routine go out the window as you catch up with loved ones or treat yourself to a few days away.
This can all make it hard to stick to your healthy eating plan or to stay active. But don’t worry! We have the tools and tips to help you succeed.
The Science Behind Holiday Weight Gain
Longitudinal studies show that each year – on average – everyone gains a small amount of weight (0.4-1kg), but that it’s gained more rapidly during certain periods, such as over the Christmas holiday season.
Studies of weight gain over the holiday season show consistent increases in weight of 0.5-1kg – and this weight gain is not always lost in the months after Christmas.
Although it only sounds like a small amount of weight, over 10 years it adds up to a 5-10kg increase in body weight. That makes the festive period a high-risk time for weight gain.
On Christmas Day alone, some people can consume as many as 6000 calories – three times the recommended daily allowance.
Here are some quick and easy steps you can take to avoid putting on weight over the festive season.
Steps To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Weigh yourself regularly
Regularly weighing yourself can help prevent weight gain2, making this a great option during the holiday season. Even outside the holiday season, regular weigh-ins can help raise your awareness of your progress and keep you motivated to stick to your healthy lifestyle plans.
If you’re on the Allurion Programme, you’re probably already tracking your weight on your Allurion Connected Scale and Allurion app! Being aware of how far you’ve come in your weight loss journey can help you stay motivated to keep up the progress. (If you have not downloaded the app yet, now’s a good chance to start tracking! Download the app here.
Aim to weigh yourself at the same time each day. Wear the same clothes each time or, better still, weigh in without any clothes on at all. That will ensure your weigh-ins are truly comparable. However, it is important to be mindful that weight can also fluctuate with hormones and water retention!
Set realistic goals
Make some ‘rules’ or ‘guidelines’ for yourself to help you handle tricky situations that sometimes cause a lapse in your healthy eating plan. This way, you’ve already got a course of action so that you don’t spend energy or rely on willpower to work your way around a problem. For example, you might make a ‘rule’ that instead of taking a piece of bread at dinner, you will just pass the basket straight on.
If continuing to lose weight over the holidays is unrealistic for you, you may wish to set the intention of maintaining your current weight, or perhaps, set a ‘maximum’ goal for any weight gain. For example, “I will gain no more than 0.5kg”.
Having clear objectives in mind, and reminding yourself of them, can help you succeed, but remember to allow for some fun, and keep your rules realistic.
Modify your environment
Your environment is one of the most powerful triggers to eat – sights, sounds and smells all drive our choices. Set yourself up for success by thinking about changes you can make to your home and workspace.
Also, think about your or other spaces you use often. Set your spaces up in ways that make healthier choices as easy as possible.
For example, you can fill a colourful fruit bowl and put it in the middle of an easy-to-reach table, allowing yourself easy access whenever you feel like having a snack.
Likewise, you may wish to put Christmas cookies in a sealed tin where you can’t see it – such as at the back of a cupboard, allowing you to save the sweets for when you’re with company or celebrating around a table. These simple changes are like holiday helpers, making healthy nutrient-rich choices easier for you to see and grab when you need them.
Temptation bundling is a concept where you will combine the things you need to do with the things you like to do. This reduces the amount of energy and willpower you’ll need to be successful.
For example, if you enjoy listening to podcasts, tie it to an evening walk so that you only listen to your favourite podcast while walking. Or watch your favourite Netflix show while you’re on your exercise bike.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you may also wish to incorporate seasonal activities such as ice skating and or going on a nature walk to collect items for wreath making. These activities can be suggested in place of meeting friends and family for a heavy meal or drinking at the pub.
When making healthy lifestyle changes, we want to find new ways to make them fun and inviting, so you’re more likely to stick with them!
Plan ahead and stick to routines
We’ve already recognised that it can be hard to stick to a routine over a festive or holiday period, but it can be done. Plan ahead and work out clever ways of ensuring you stay on top of your healthy lifestyle habits. Christmas Day aside, can you:
- Stick to your usual meal routines? Whether this is 2 or 5 smaller meals a day, consistency is key.
- Plan a clever meal schedule that you can follow while you’re staying with family?
- Pre-pack and plan the snacks or foods you might need to take with you so that you can stick to the plan?
- Incorporate exercise during the same times you normally would, while getting your friends and family involved?
Planning ahead makes staying on track easier (and more likely). It reduces the need for making decisions in the moment and helps to make sure that you’re ready to face any barriers or challenges that might be on the horizon.
Do what works for you – plan, shop and meal prep for the week, plan tomorrow’s meals or write a menu for the entire week. We know this gets trickier around holiday time but it can still be done – and if you have a plan, it will make things easier. Perhaps you can also help to plan menus or assist with the cooking at your friend’s house so that everyone eats more healthily?
Talk to your healthcare team if you’re on the Allurion Programme. Your clinic team will be able to help you work on a plan to get you through the festive season. That may include trouble-shooting advice so you can negotiate tricky situations or tried-and-tested ideas to help you adjust your usual routine. And if you’re thinking of getting the Allurion Balloon, know that personalised nutritional coaching and support are an integral part of the Allurion Programme —you’ll never be alone!
Try to stay active everyday. It is recommended, that those with able bodies, should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. If you’re already on the Allurion Programme, your Health Tracker would clock in the number of steps you take a day and you’ll be able to track them with no effort on the app.
- If you’re going to a family gathering, can you walk or cycle there?
- Can you take a walk to do some last-minute shopping or suggest a family walk to look at the Christmas lights?
During the holiday season where it’s tempting to stay on the couch the whole day, here are other easy suggestions to encouraging moving during the day.
- Volunteer to check on the turkey!
- Volunteer to walk to the corner store to get that milk your host has run out of
- Play charades instead of Scrabble.
Simply put, any activity that involves standing – or being a bit more active than you otherwise would be – is the way to go!
Focus on eating right
Don’t forget about your 5-a-day. Be sure to pack your snacks and plates with colourful and varied fruits and veggies to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. Be creative if you’re out and about. Choose snacks that you can pack and take, or those you can take in bulk if you’re away from home and may have few other healthy options.
Be smart with your portions. Fill your plate half full of veggies and then add a quarter of a plate of fibre-rich carbohydrates (brown rice, pasta or skin on potatoes, etc) and quarter of protein (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, etc).
Choose healthy and nutrient-rich foods first. If you want to grab a Christmas cookie, go for it! Just, don’t replace your healthy meals with this option.
Track your food intake and activity
Simply put, if you eat more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight. Utilising tracking tools or keeping a journal of what you eat can help you have a holistic view of the impact certain foods have on your weight.
Working out how much physical activity is needed to expend the calories in food and drink can actually help reduce intake and increase physical activity. It can help persuade you not to eat something or motivate you to be more active if you do.
For instance, to burn the calories in one mince pie, you’ll need to run for 21 minutes. And a small glass of mulled wine takes 32 minutes to burn off. So if you are tempted to have that additional mince pie, try to see if you can add a 20-min jogging session to your day.
If you already have an Allurion Balloon, keep using your Connected Scale, Health Tracker and app throughout the festive period. The Allurion Health Tracker monitors your steps, exercise, and sleep, syncing all this information effortlessly to the app and helping you see how all this activity work together and impact your weight. Aside from being a good way to stay in your regular routine, they can also help you to stay motivated to stick with your healthy eating plans.
Be realistic, though – if you know it just won’t be possible to get to 10,000 steps in due to changed Christmas plans, revise that goal. Don’t throw it away altogether – instead, adjust for a few days to ensure you still have a target. Aim to make some progress, rather than none at all.
If you don’t already have an Allurion Balloon, find out how you can start losing weight before Christmas comes along.
You don’t need to go it alone! Research shows that both practical and emotional support from family and friends can help you to reach your weight-loss goals.
Include your loved ones in your weight-loss journey – let them know what you’re trying to achieve (and why). Don’t forget to let them know how they can help make things a bit easier for you over the festive period.
Maybe you can join forces – does anyone else want to prevent weight gain over the holiday period? Can your friend adjust their meal plans or get healthier options in for you if they’re cooking Christmas lunch? Success really can be and is most often, a team effort.
Importance Of Enjoying Yourself During The Holidays
While trying not to gain weight may be a goal for you this season, it is important to not let it consume you. The holidays are a time for spending quality time with loved ones and creating meaningful connections. Try to maintain balance and focus on healthy options while allowing yourself to have fun. Why not also make a list of fun things you want to do over the holiday period? Keep them strictly non-food-related – and enjoy all the beauty of this season!
How The Allurion Programme Can Help
The Allurion Programme combines the Allurion Gastric Balloon, medical expertise, personalised nutrition coaching and a powerful suite of digital tools to deliver fast, healthy and sustainable weight loss.
When you choose to start the programme before the holiday season, your nutritionist will be there for you throughout, providing support and guidance when you need it most. With their coaching, you’ll learn how to re-engineer your eating habits but also learn to recognize your triggers and develop strategies together to deal with them.
We recommend exploring the Allurion Programme before Christmas to help you get through the toughest part with the most support. You can learn more about the Allurion Programme or see if you are eligible right here.
- Mason F, Farley A, Pallan M, Sitch A, Easter C, Daley AJ. Effectiveness of a brief behavioural intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2018;363: k4867. Published 2018 Dec 10. doi:10.1136/bmj.k4867