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December 13, 2023

Holiday Weight Loss Tips

Plates of cookies, bowls of candy and tins of popcorn are lurking around every corner this time of year. Holiday parties are brimming with pies, cakes, and deserts—Oh! and cocktails. Before you know it, you’re attending those family gatherings where the tables overflow with potatoes, bread and casseroles. Bring on the starch.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are tough for anyone trying to maintain a healthy weight. And even tougher for anyone trying to lose weight.

For years the mantra has been “the average American gains about 5 pounds during the holidays.” But a study published a few years ago found that most people gain one to two pounds during the holidays. People who are already obese tend to gain a little more. That doesn’t sound too bad. But the study revealed that most of us keep that extra one to two pounds through the year, and then add to it each year. Holiday weight gain is responsible for most of the weight we gain as we age. A pound or two becomes ten or twenty a decade later.

Following our Simple 9© program through the holiday season is the best way to avoid weight gain. But let’s face it, there are more temptations than most of us can avoid. Because of that, a few years ago, I put together a list of random weight loss tips to help navigate some of the more challenging seasons of life. Keep these tips in mind as you enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays.

Avoid Eating Out

The number of people with whom we eat can have a big impact on the amount of food we eat. Eating with just one other person can increase the average size of a meal by as much as 44%. Eating in restaurants where there are more than 17 people present will cause the average person to consume 400 more calories. Something in our DNA prompts us to eat more when we are in large groups. As often as possible, enjoy your meals at home with your family. Take your lunch to work and eat by yourself or with a handful of friends.

Enjoy Your Food

Believe it or not, we don’t stop eating when our stomach is full. Feeling satisfied during a meal seems to be a combination of how much we chew, how much we taste, how much we swallow, how much we think about the food, and how long we’ve been eating. The faster we wolf food down, the more we eat, because the right combination of cues doesn’t get a chance to tell us we’re no longer hungry. Studies show it takes up to 20 minutes for your body and brain to receive the signal you’re satisfied with your meal. Most Americans start, finish, and clear the table in less than 20 minutes. Slow down and appreciate the food you eat and the people you’re eating with.

Clean Your Plate

Most of us decide how much food we want to eat before we put it in our mouths. We eyeball how much food we think we want, put it on our plate, and eat until it’s gone. Use your plate as a guide to show you how much you’ve eaten. Create a plate with meat, vegetables, and maybe some fruit, then eat until it’s all gone. Don’t go back for seconds, and don’t eat from the container.

Let Your Clothes Be Your Guide

Getting to the right size is more important than getting to a number on the scale. Most people have a favorite pair of jeans they would like to wear comfortably. Getting into those jeans is more important than reaching a number on the scale. When you start strength training, you build muscle. Muscle is denser than fat, so after a few months of training, you might struggle to keep your pants up, but still weigh the same.

Brush Your Teeth Right After Dinner

As simple as this sounds, it works. The food you eat before bed is most likely responsible for the extra pounds you see on the scale in the morning. One of the best things you can do to lose weight—eat your last meal no later than three hours before bed. No late-night snacking. If you brush your teeth right after dinner, it creates a signal that you’re done eating for the night. Also, food in a freshly brushed mouth usually doesn’t taste very good.

Make Eating Processed Foods A Hassle

The more difficult it is to get food, the less you will eat. A recent study found the average secretary will eat nine Hershey’s Kisses (198 kcal) a day if they sit in a bowl on her or his desk. Put the bowl out of sight in a desk drawer, and the secretary will only eat six Hershey’s Kisses (132 kcal) a day. Put the bowl on a file cabinet six feet away, and the secretary will only eat four Hershey’s Kisses (88 kcal) a day. Having the bowl of kisses on the desk meant 100 extra calories a day, or 7 extra pounds in year. Keep processed foods out of sight and out of mouth.

Make Eating Simple Foods Easy

Make the foods you need to eat easily accessible. Keep a bowl of fruit on your counter so you’ll make the right choice when you need a snack. Keep packets of nuts or jerky in the car and you’ll drive right past the fast-food restaurants. And, of course, keep ice cold water with you all the time. The military always tries to get soldiers to drink more water so they will stay hydrated. A recent study found that soldiers drank almost twice as much water when pitchers were put on each dining table than when they were put on a side table. Do what it takes to make it easy to eat simple.

Hopefully some or all of these tips will help you enjoy the holidays without putting on that extra one or two pounds. If you find yourself gaining weight in the next few weeks, don’t forget about the Simple 9©. Most people find that they shed a few unwanted pounds by just following the first four habits.

Happy Holidays and Stay Strong,

Bo Railey