While button fly more impenetrable than Helm's Deep can help you make smart choices this holiday season—namely, turning down Banoffee Pie Slice #3—mere rivets are no fail-safe against the temptation of glucose. Nor can they change the fact that you are, right now, the lightest you will be all year, according to this rude study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In their conclusion, the authors basically go "practice self-control, but you'll need more than a stomach flu to get back to your goal weight, suckers" (again, rude), which leaves us thoroughly in the lurch. But never fear—we've brought in five experts to advise on weight maintenance during the time of culturally sanctioned gluttony.
Keri Glassman, founder of Nutritious Life and The Nutrition School
"I am not surprised by this study at all. People gain weight during the holidays, then lose most of it after the new year, the key word here being 'most.' If we do this over and over, year after year, even if we don't gain at any other time of the year, the pounds add up—even if they add up slowly. You can see how 10 pounds in a decade can easily happen!
To avoid the holiday weight gain, stick with someone who will encourage your healthy habits or someone who also wants to avoid the holiday weight gain. Don't skip meals. This will lead to feelings of deprivation and can trigger you to over eat later. And position yourself away from the food when out at a holiday party. Out of sight, out of your mouth—you're less likely to eat when you're not standing right next to the food."
Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, MS, RDN, FACSM, FAND
"Consume a high fiber diet or consider a supplement like Sunfiber or Regular Girl before attending your holiday celebration. This helps with satiety, the feeling of fullness, so you don't overeat. And get adequate sleep—we need at least 7 hours for our bodies to repair, recharge, and renew.
"Gratitude is a great one this time of year, because it shifts your brain's focus from what it wants to what it has."
Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., psychology professor, brain and cognitive scientist
"What this study doesn't mention is that self-control, or more precisely, willpower, isn't a dimension of personality, or character. It's simply a cognitive function available to all of us in limited doses. Diets that are successful should expect that willpower will be easily depleted over the holidays—the key to this is planning ahead.
First, understand that the part of your brain trying to get you through the mall without ordering a Cinnabon is also the same one keeping you from losing your patience with your children while you do it, which means you can only accomplish one or the other. So instead of going into holiday situations that present the double whammy of being stressful *and* having food on offer, decide ahead of time exactly what you will and won't put in your mouth. Then you can just fall back on your prior commitment and keep the chattering part of your brain quiet.
And there are some key things you can do to replenish willpower: sleep, keeping a gratitude journal, prayer—these all help your willpower battery lasting longer than 15 minutes. Gratitude is a great one this time of year, because it shifts your brain's focus from what it wants to what it has."
"Pick and choose what meals you let go at and which ones you are extremely strict with yourself."
Monica Amsterdam, Director of Nutrition at the Medical and Wellness Center of New Jersey
"My top advice: Going to a get-together famished is a major mistake, so 30 to 60 minutes before you go, have a healthy smoothie with protein and a little fat. A tablespoon of nut or seed butter, or an apple with ½ tbsp. of nut or seed butter works great. Don't tell people you're watching your diet. And don't bring leftovers home."
Keri Gans, RDN and author of The Small Change Diet
"Treat the holidays just like you would any other time of the year. If you overindulge, get back on track immediately. Make sure you make time for your workouts, even if that means getting up in the morning extra early. And if your social calendar is full, pick and choose what meals you let go at and which ones you are extremely strict with yourself. Gaining weight is not an option."