How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays
Gaining weight—an average of one pound or 0.5 kg, according to a 2014 study—is expected during the holiday season, particularly between mid-November and mid-January. While gaining a few pounds may not cause problems for most people, those who have lost a limb and use a prosthesis should be careful to avoid holiday weight gain.
Weight gain can negatively affect your residual limb. You’ll notice the effects of holiday weight gain, such as excessive pressure on the prosthetic socket, chafing, and skin irritation. Although you can use prosthetic socks, sheaths, and liners to make wearing a prosthetic limb a bit more comfortable, gaining too much weight—about 2 to 3 kg—calls for an altered prosthetic socket fit. In some cases, you may need a new prosthetic socket, which can strain your budget.
The best way to maintain residual limb health and save costs is to maintain a steady weight during the holidays. Here are some tips that may help.
Get good quality sleep
Sleep is crucial to prevent weight gain during the holiday season. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is common during this time, which may cause an increase in weight. This is because inadequate sleep may lead to increased hunger, higher calorie intake, and less physical activity.
Sleep deprivation is known to increase hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie consumption. Additionally, lack of sleep has been associated with decreased metabolism due to changes in the circadian rhythm—a biological clock regulating bodily functions.
Chronic stress has been linked to an increase in food intake. This explains those junk food cravings when you are under stress.
The good news is that various techniques, like exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, can help you reduce stress levels during the holidays.
Fiber is your friend
During the holidays, it's easy to consume more calories than usual and gain weight. One way to prevent this is to increase your dietary fiber intake.
Unfortunately, many holiday foods are lacking in fiber. To ensure you get enough fiber, try incorporating foods like fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetables.
Have protein with every meal
Holiday meals are typically high in carbohydrates but low in protein. However, protein is needed for weight control as it helps you feel full faster and increases your metabolism and levels of appetite-reducing hormones.
Aim to include at least one ounce of protein with each meal. Good protein sources include fish, meat, poultry, and plant-based foods like quinoa.
Do low-impact activities
Engaging in sedentary activities, like sitting on the couch and binge-watching TV shows, is expected during the holidays. Most families spend time and bond with each other this way. However, being inactive for long periods can lead to weight gain, especially when you’re already overeating.
Getting off the couch occasionally and encouraging your family to be more active is essential. You can do indoor walking exercises while watching a holiday movie or leave the house for light jogging. These physical activities can help shift your focus away from food while allowing you to bond and make memories with your loved ones.
Eating while watching a TV show might not be a good idea. Research suggests that those who eat while distracted are more likely to overeat since they can’t pay attention to their body’s fullness signals.
So, the next time you eat, be present and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. This will help you recognize your body’s fullness signals and consume fewer calories.
Avoid processed foods
Many processed foods, like ham and boxed mashed potatoes, take center stage during the holidays as they are quick and easy to prepare. However, these foods often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that can lead to weight gain. So, opting for whole foods and cooking your meals from scratch is best.
Don’t allow unhealthy habits to take root
During the holidays, it’s common to postpone doing healthy habits. This is known as the “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality, which can prolong unhealthy habits you may bring into the new year. If you’re serious about controlling your weight, sticking to your goals is crucial. Yes, even during the holiday season.
However, be kind to yourself when you have a slip-up or two. Instead of altogether abandoning your goals, it’s best to take on the “a little goes a long way” mentality. For example, instead of aiming to eat healthier tomorrow, why not start making healthy choices the next time you eat? So, if you slip up, at least you have one healthy meal during the day, which still counts toward achieving your goals.
The bottom line
While it’s common to gain weight during the holiday season, keeping your weight steady is essential, especially if you use a prosthesis. Weight gain can lead to a tight and uncomfortable prosthetic socket, resulting in residual limb issues.
Aim to get plenty of good quality sleep, reduce your levels, and eat whole foods. The tips outlined above will not only keep you from gaining holiday weight but also improve your overall health and well-being.