November is officially here. It’s the time of year where goodies from Halloween linger and temptations from the approaching holiday season begin to arise. To say this season has a reputation in the health and well-being department is likely an understatement. It’s also not just a reputation.

According to research from Cornell University, holiday weight gain is real. In fact, the study discovered that in the U.S., weight begins to rise throughout October and November, and peaks 10 days after Christmas. While average weight gain wasn’t large, approximately 1.3 pounds, the number is still significant and concerning to many.

It doesn’t, however, have to remain this way. Here’s how to stay on your wellness game during the holidays:

#1: Stay Hydrated

While drinking the recommended eight glasses of water per day is important, there is more to staying hydrated. For instance, many people become dehydrated quicker during the colder months simply because they do not realize how much moisture they are losing. Further benefits to hydration include fighting off sickness and fighting off pounds. In fact, studies show that water helps people feel full and as a result consume fewer calories.

#2: Come Hungry, But Not Starving to Big Meals

Another expectation of the holiday season is big lavish meals. While it may seem like a smart idea to fast or minimally eat leading up to the big meal, it is actually essential to not skip meals throughout the day. If you do, it could result in overeating. Pace yourself throughout the day to ensure you are hungry come meal time, but not starving. To do this, stock yourself full of fiber-rich foods that will satisfy hunger like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

#3: Don’t Deprive Yourself

According to dietician Chloe McLeod, "if you're never eating the foods you really enjoy or which give you pleasure, then that's going to result in feelings of deprivation. If you have these feelings of deprivation, it can increase the chance of bingeing or overeating, and this can end up being quite an unhealthy cycle."

Rather, enjoy yourself at the holidays in moderation (a tactic that is beneficial all year long). Allow yourself to have a dessert, a serving of your favorite side dish or that glass of wine and don’t feel guilty. That glass of red wine can be helping you prevent heart disease and stroke.

#4: Take Advantage of Nutritious Foods

Yes, many of the traditional festive holiday foods are not known for their nutritious value, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of healthy foods this holiday season. White meat turkey alone can fulfill this requirement as it is low in saturated fats and an excellent source of protein that can keep you full.

The fall also produces an abundant amount of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables that are in season including squash, brussel sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, cranberry and more. These can be turned into delicious side dishes as well as liven up the color on your plate to be even more festive.

#5: Remain Active

It can be appealing to ditch your standard exercise routine during the holiday season. However, in doing so, you could be causing yourself more harm than good. This is because it doesn’t take long for the body to start losing strength and if you remain inactive for too long, it could take you even longer to get back to your fitness level than it originally did.

Therefore, keep it a priority to remain active during the holidays. You can even incorporate activities with friends and family – participate in holiday-themed 5ks, head out on walks/hiking trips or even play a friendly game of flag football.

Ultimately, enjoying the holiday season while keeping health and wellness top of mind is possible. Not to mention, you’ll also be preparing yourself for a good foundation for the year ahead.

Happy holidays,

The StayWell Team