Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and it’s no surprise why. We often indulge over the holidays, and our physical activity levels can dip in the colder months — this combination can add up to weight gain. In fact, research suggests that, on average, Americans gain approximately 1.3 pounds between Christmas and the new year.
If your goal is to scale back on unwanted weight gain, here are a few mindful tweaks you can make to your regular routine.
Drink Water First
It’s easy to confuse hunger for thirst, which leads to unnecessary snacking, especially between meals. Before you grab a snack, drink a glass of water and wait for 15 to 20 minutes. If your stomach is still rumbling, then you know it’s time for a balanced snack.
Snack Before the Party
Parties, work functions and eating out with friends can sometimes lead to overeating. Instead, try filling up on a fiber-rich snack and a glass of water 30 minutes before the big event. Great before-the-party snacks include a medium apple, 2/3 of a cup of oatmeal or a small handful of almonds with a glass of water.
Load Up on Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and water, which help keep you satisfied throughout the day. Make it a habit to fill half of your plate or bowl with raw, grilled or roasted veggies. They’ll help satisfy your appetite and cravings, and they may keep you from overeating later in the day. Another great idea is to eat your veggies first, then your protein, and assess your hunger levels thereafter. Refined and sugary carbohydrate foods (think: cookies, crackers and cakes) tend to be the easiest to overindulge in, so save them for last.
Be a Mindful Eater
Mindful eating means paying attention to how you eat. Most of us are always on the go, distracted and attached to our screens, so we’re disconnected from our hunger signals. To eat mindfully, start by choosing one meal or snack per day to enjoy screenless, really paying attention to the nourishing food in front of you. When you start to feel full and satisfied, pause for 15 to 20 minutes before continuing your meal — this is the amount of time it typically takes for your brain to catch up to your stomach. Then, if you still feel hungry, go for seconds. While mindful eating takes practice, it can have significant benefits in the long run.
Eliminating the foods you enjoy eating isn’t a helpful strategy in the long haul, especially if you want to lose weight sustainably. In fact, studies show that setting prohibitions against the foods you love can just lead you to want and think about them even more! And substituting “diet” versions of your favorite indulgences tends to be less satisfying, and may not make much difference in calories anyway. Instead, give yourself permission to have one moderate treat every day (approximately 150 calories or fewer), whether that’s a piece of chocolate or a couple of fries. Choose something you really, really want — it can help you stay satisfied and on track.