Although only 1 in 10 individuals will gain 5 lbs or more during the holidays, most of us will put on some weight that tends to stay with us during the course of the following year. Thus, to help you avoid becoming that 1 in 10 who puts on more weight than average during the next couple of weeks, here’s a list of 3 easy tricks to curb overindulging.
1. Drink 1-2 glasses of water prior to all big meals
A study published online in the journal Obesity randomized overweight/obese older men and women to either a hypocaloric diet alone or a hypocaloric diet plus increased water consumption for a duration of 12 weeks. The hypocaloric diet consisted of 1200 calories for the women and 1500 calories for the men. Those in the diet + increased water group were required to consume 500 ml of water (2 cups) 30 minutes prior to each of the 3 large daily meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
While participants in both groups lost a significant amount of weight (5-8kg) in response to the diet, those who also consumed more water before their meals lost an additional 2 kg in comparison to the diet only group.
The greater weight loss in the group consuming pre-meal water was likely the result of smaller caloric intake during each meal (~40 calories less per meal).
Drinking more water will also have the added bonus of forcing you to take bathroom breaks, thereby increasing your level of physical activity.
2. Don’t skip breakfast
Research has shown that breakfast skippers have an overall poor diet quality and make lousy food choices throughout the day compared with breakfast consumers. Not surprisingly, breakfast skipping is strongly associated with an increased likelihood of weight gain. Given the plentiful availability of poor dietary options during the holidays, you can protect yourself against temptation by starting the day off right and eating breakfast.
While simply having breakfast is great, what you have for breakfast can make a big difference. Ideally, your breakfast should have plenty of fiber, plenty of protein, and not skimp on the calories. See here for more info.
3. Serve healthy snacks in large bowls and the unhealthy ones in small bowls
This little trick should result in a greater consumption of healthy snacks and a limited consumption of unhealthy ones, not only helping you, but those you have over to your place during the holidays.
A wonderfully simple study found that when snacks are offered in a large bowl, people take 53% more food (146 extra calories) and eat 56% (142 calories) more than when offered the same amount of food but in a smaller bowl (roughly half the size of large bowl).
Tin, S., Ho, S., Mak, K., Wan, K., & Lam, T. (2011). Breakfast skipping and change in body mass index in young children International Journal of Obesity DOI:10.1038/ijo.2011.58
Wansink, B. (2005). Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 293 (14), 1727-1728 DOI: 10.1001/jama.293.14.1727
Dennis, E., Dengo, A., Comber, D., Flack, K., Savla, J., Davy, K., & Davy, B. (2009). Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older Adults Obesity DOI:10.1038/oby.2009.235