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7 ‘Cheat Tricks’ for Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

Practice self care, eat dairy, and more.

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You might think that cold weather makes you burn more calories, but for most people, it’s the opposite. Cold weather means holidays, which mean comfort food. Let’s be clear: Nothing is wrong with enjoying the delicious eats you and your family create. If you want to prevent long-term weight gain, however, it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Try out these tiny tweaks that may help prevent holiday weight gain.

Self care may help you lose more.

Go ahead and treat yourself to anything that makes you feel more beautiful, such as a festive manicure, a new scarf, or simply changing up your lipstick. Women who feel confident about their appearance lose more weight when dieting than those with a negative self-image. Feeling good about yourself curbs comfort eating, plus makes you more optimistic so you’re willing to adopt new, healthy habits.

Torch fat with a little bit of dairy.

Sounds counter-intuitive, but adding a little dairy to meals may reverse weight gain. University of Tennessee researchers found that women on low-calorie diets who consumed three servings of dairy daily (such as cheese, yogurt, or milk) trimmed their waistline and lost more belly fat than dieters who skimped on these foods. Credit goes to the type of calcium found in dairy, which increases metabolism so you burn more fat even while at rest.

Chew for 32.

In a recent study conducted in Japan, women who spent more time chewing their food burned significantly more fat afterward than those who took fewer bites. Activating jaw muscles releases hormones like adrenaline that fire up fat burners. What’s more, the slower you eat—experts advise chewing each bite about 32 times—the sooner you feel satiated.

Block fat absorption by sipping black tea.

A hot cup of freshly brewed black tea is a perfect way to warm up on a chilly day. And when you sip it with meals, you can enjoy your favorite hearty fall fare while fending off holiday weight gain. That’s the word from a 2018 study published in Molecules, who found that potent flavonoid compounds in tea (known as theaflavins and thearubigins) help your body excrete more of the fat you ingest by reducing its absorption in the gut, whisking it out of your body before it can trigger weight gain.

Sidestep sneaky pounds by eating breakfast.

No need to skip breakfast to compensate for a big Thanksgiving dinner. The Ohio State University notes that skipping meals actually leads to weight gain, especially in your abdomen, while eating regularly keeps extra pounds at bay. Nixing one of your three daily meals makes the liver less sensitive to insulin, which prompts the body to store food as fat rather than burn it off.

Cut calories by peeking at the menu.

Headed out to dinner with friends? Look at the menu online and decide what you want ahead of time. In a Carnegie Mellon University study, folks who did so ate fewer calories than those who made their choice at the eatery. Why? You’re less hungry, plus there’s less pressure to choose quickly, so you automatically pick a healthier option.

Curb snacking by hitting snooze.

Nibbling on a few too many snacks lately? Sleep in! A new University of Chicago study found that extending your sleep by one hour reduces snacking, cutting up to 500 calories per day. Getting between seven and nine hours of sleep regulates your appetite to quash diet-derailing hunger pangs throughout the day.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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