How Can I Lose the Weight I Gained Over the Holidays?
By Kara Carper, MA, CNS, LN
January 11, 2023
Many people experience weight gain over the holidays. It might be helpful to remember how and why the weight was gained. Think about how holidays are different from other times of the year: busy schedules lead to a lack of meal planning and preparation, there are more social events usually revolving around “holiday” food and drinks, and it’s more difficult to stick to a regular routine.
Here are some tips that will help to take off those holiday pounds:
Plan & Prep Your Meals
This means going grocery shopping with a list and having the right foods in the house. Make a plan before you go, so you know exactly what you need to put in your cart in order to have animal protein, healthy fat, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates in your fridge and pantry. If the store presents too much temptation from certain aisles or your schedule is too busy, most stores have the option now to order online for delivery or for curbside pick-up. It’s a great option because you’ll stick to your list and not get sidetracked by the end-cap goodies positioned to sell! It’s difficult, if not impossible, to lose weight without a plan and that plan starts with your menu of meals and shopping list.
Plan your meals out a day or more ahead of time. Ask yourself, “What will I eat for breakfast tomorrow morning, and lunch, and dinner, and snacks?” If you know you’ll have a few meals away from home, prepare foods in advance and pack a cooler with lunch and easy-to-grab snacks, especially if you know you’ll be on the go running kids and errands after work.
If you’re new to meal prepping, keep it simple! Rather than try a new or complicated recipe, start with some easy staples that you can use to create meals. Roast a pan of cruciferous veggies to have in eggs, on top of salads, or reheated as a side for dinner. Pop some chicken in the slow cooker or instant pot to eat hot for your next meal and then shred the rest for later to make tacos, salad, or throw in a soup or stew. Consider doubling the batch of your favorite white chicken chili or beef chili. Eat some for dinner and then divvy up the rest in lunch or snack portions for the rest of the week!
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Reduce Your Processed Foods Intake
The foods you eat during the holidays are likely high in sugar and processed carbohydrates. It’s easy to graze on candy, cookies, bars, breads and the wide assortment of treats that are readily available around the holidays. Excess processed carbohydrates increase your blood sugar and insulin levels, which is then usually stored as fat in your body. By reducing the amount of these packaged and highly palatable foods you consume, your blood sugar will normalize, and fat will be burned as energy instead.
The body needs carbohydrates for energy; however, it was built to use the types of carbs our ancestors ate: things that were plucked from the ground, a tree, or a bush! To fuel your body the exact amount of energy it can utilize at once (while also nourishing it with important vitamins and minerals that come from plants!), focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables. These carbohydrates contain fiber that supports the microbiome in the gut and helps to keep your blood sugar stable while digesting them.
Measure and Weigh Your Food
Planning ahead and reducing processed foods may be enough for you to lose the weight you gained during the holidays. But, if you find yourself still struggling to lose the pounds, you may need to weigh and measure your food. It’s important to weigh protein (after cooking) on a food scale because it’s easy to underestimate the amount your body needs. For best weight loss results, aim for 4-6 ounces of protein per meal.
Measure the carbohydrates you consume as well. Limit starchy carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, squash, carrots and peas to one-half cup per meal. Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, salad greens and lighter vegetables do not need to be measured since they are low in carbohydrates and rich in fiber and nutrients, like mentioned above.
If you are someone who can’t stop eating nuts and nut butters or uses gobs of dressing on salads, then you will want to start measuring your fat intake as well. Try to get 10 grams of healthy fat at each snack and meal and avoid refined, damaged fats like canola oil, soybean oil, and vegetable oil. Healthy fats are important to feel satisfied, to help absorb the vitamins and minerals from vegetables, and keep blood sugar stable. Because of their health benefits, don’t be afraid of including healthy fat in your plan. If you’re having trouble dialing in your weight loss, consider being more conscious of the AMOUNTS you are having rather than cutting fat out, and measuring will help with mindfulness.
Gym membership specials abound with the New Year. This is wonderful and there are countless benefits achieved from exercise. However, hiring a personal trainer or meeting your buddy at the gym is only part of the picture when looking at weight loss. Don’t be afraid to get support with your eating as well. Just as people need help when starting a weight training program, they also need support with an eating plan. Choose the option that’s right for you:
- Meet with a nutritionist for one-on-one support and a personalized eating plan that will help you lose those holiday pounds and restore your energy. Some health insurance plans cover nutrition counseling, so if you have Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, United Health, or Medicare, you can contact your member services representative to see if you have coverage.
- Sign up for the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program to get the information and support you need to lose weight and conquer your cravings. Foundations is a 12-week series held in-person, virtually, or online that includes a 90-minute consultation with a dietitian or nutritionist along with the group support of a teacher and classmates. Once you’ve completed the 12 weeks, you can sign up for Ongoing Support & Education 8-week series to keep the consistency and accountability going.
- Take the 5 Steps To Boost Metabolism class for a quick nutrition refresher. It’s an online class you’ll have access to for 120 days for $25 and will give you five actions to focus on for better metabolism.
Often, we say to focus on your health first and weight loss will follow. Plan and prep your meals, reduce your intake of processed carbohydrates, measure and weigh your food, and get support. Focusing on hitting these actions consistently will help you feel healthier, and you’ll lose weight at the same time.
For more information on weight loss, check out these resources: