The holiday season is upon us and with this time of year comes an array of parties and events to attend, and any excuse, let’s be honest, to cook up or, simply, eat those tasty holiday treats. Cookies, cake, pie galore! During this season we are tempted with so many decadent spreads of food.
According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health the average weight person typically gains a pound over the holiday season. However overweight and obese people tend to gain five pounds during this time! The big problem is that most people don’t lose the weight gained, thus the pounds obtained over the winter holidays accumulate year by year. This doesn’t have to be YOU! Know that you can enjoy the holidays and maintain your weight and healthy habits. Yes, maintenance is the KEY word here. Don’t look to lose weight over the holidays. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:
1. Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals so you can indulge later typically backfires. You may end up over consuming more than normal and your desire to make healthy decisions goes out the door. Tip: eat a healthy snack or light meal before you go out so you don’t overindulge at the party. Try to combine some protein with a complex carbohydrate and you may feel full longer. Think a small handful of nuts or a couple ounces of cheese and a fresh fruit. Or a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread.
2. Balance your plate. For the party meal, think MyPlate guidelines: ½ of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts or salad, ¼ of the plate can be from protein sources like grilled salmon, sauteed tofu or chicken breast and ¼ starch consisting of pasta, rice, sweet potatoes or bean salad. Add in one dessert, or small portions of several desserts, to make one serving. Think volume for the vegetables and portion control of the more decadent sides and desserts.
3. Don’t drink your calories. We all love those holiday punches, ciders, cocktails and hot comforting drinks but know what is in your drink before overindulging. Always start the party off with water or a glass of seltzer. If you want to get or remain svelte, stick with water or seltzer! Egg Nog is one of the richest holiday drinks, containing 350 calories, 19 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar per serving! CalorieKing (calorieking.com) is great website (and FREE app) for nutrition information on drinks and food.
4. Always keep healthy foods in your house so you eat well at home: fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus,whole grains, such as couscous, whole grain pasta and cereals, nuts and nut butters and popcorn.
5. Leave what you bring to parties at the party. One slice of pecan pie (4 ounces) has about 480 calories. Everyone eats pie on occasion but when you bring the leftovers home and have 4 additional slices (1920 calories) you could easily gain ½ pound.
6. Maintain your exercise routine to prevent weight gain and relieve holiday stress. Walking at a brisk pace just 20 minutes every day is beneficial.
7. Aim to maintain weight, not lose it. Enjoy the holiday season and the time you spend with with friends and family! You will get more enjoyment out of laughing with those you are closest to than indulging in unhealthy party foods. Do not let the buffet table become your focus.
About Author: Lisa Stollman is the author of “The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy,” (Nirvana Press 2012). For more info or to purchase: http://www.teeneatingmanifesto.com.