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Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

From Shelby Moose, Crossing Rivers Health Registered Dietitan

It’s the holiday season, and that means gathering with family and friends and enjoying delicious food! Don’t let the holiday festivities weigh you down! With just a few strategies, you can avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and the holiday feast!

  1. Don’t let Thanksgiving dinner be the start of a non-stop grazing feast that lasts until the New Year! Resist the temptation to throw in the towel and have a holiday free for all.
  2. Focus on maintaining your current weight during the holidays, even if you’re in the process of losing weight right now. Feeling deprived will ruin your holiday fun.
  3. Don't let exercise take a holiday. It is a busy time of year, and it isn't always easy to fit exercise into your schedule. Try taking a stroll through your neighborhood to view holiday light displays. Or, if it's too cold for outdoor activity, make a loop or two inside the mall before doing your holiday shopping. Even a 10-minute brisk walk has great benefits.
  4. Eat breakfast that includes some fruit and/or vegetable on the morning of a holiday gathering.
  5. Cook with care. Often, a simple ingredient substitution can reduce the fat and calories in your favorite recipes without sacrificing flavor. For example: top dishes with sliced almonds rather than fried onion rings. Bake muffins and quick breads, such as banana bread, using applesauce for a portion of the butter or oil. Substitute just a little at a time until you find an amount you're happy with.
  6. Limit your portions. Sometimes, just a bite or two will satisfy a craving. Just because your Great Aunt Mary made her 'famous' casserole, does not mean you need to fill your plate with a big portion!
  7. Don't skip meals. In anticipation of overindulging, it might be tempting to skip a meal before a holiday party. But that strategy can backfire. Instead of getting fewer calories for the day, you might actually end up getting more (people tend to overeat when they're hungry). Eating a small snack, such as a whole-wheat bagel, before a party can take the edge off. High-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which fill you up without a lot of calories, are good choices.
  8. Rethink your drink. Beverages can also contribute to a little round belly that shakes when you laugh like a bowl full of jelly. Just a half-cup of eggnog, for example, may contain about 200 calories. Alcoholic drinks can pack a wallop too. To reduce your calorie consumption, choose a zero-calorie beverage. Try sparkling water with a lime twist. Even alternating a higher-calorie drink with a low-calorie option may be beneficial. Check out these great alcohol-free holiday drink recipes.
  9. Lastly, loose the guilt! You just ate some cake. How does that make you feel: awful or joyful? Feeling bad about yourself because you ate something indulgent doesn’t motivate you to try harder to shed excess weight or eat healthier. Instead, it weakens your willpower so you more easily give in to temptation. It's much more productive to view treats as celebratory and, by that token, not completely off-limits—even if you're trying to lose weight. So loose the guilt and make sure you eat your fruits and veggies at the next meal.

Still planning the holiday meal? Check out these great healthy recipes.