The holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends and good food. It can also be a challenging time of year to maintain a healthy eating and exercise regimen. The National Institutes of Health estimates that Americans gain an average of 1-2 lbs (and up to five times more for those who are overweight or obese) during the 6 week period between Thanksgiving and New Years. Although 1-2 lbs may not seem like a significant amount of weight gain, studies indicate that for most people the extra weight does not come off very easily and can accumulate over the years. But with a little planning, flexibility and moderation, you can survive the calorie onslaught without the fear of extra weight gain. Following are some suggestions or strategies to get through this season.
- In anticipation of a holiday meal or party don’t skip meals throughout the day. This will encourage over eating at the celebration.
- Be mindful of liquid calories. Alcohol calories can add up quickly. One serving of holiday eggnog can add as much as 200 calories. Check the calorie count of your favorite drinks at calorie count (http://caloriecount.about.com/). Consider club soda or sparkling water with lemon or a splash of juice in place.
- Studies indicate that we tend to eat more with our eyes rather than our stomachs and therefore eat most of what we serve ourselves. Therefore, consider using a main dish plate for salads and the smaller salad plate for main course items as a way of tricking yourself into consuming less calories overall.
- Once you have served yourself, keep your distance from the buffet table. It is easy to keep nibbling if you are right by the food table and lose track of how much you have eaten.
- Holiday foods tend to be high in carbohydrates and fat. So choose one or two servings at most of bread rolls, biscuits, stuffing, rice, beans or potatoes, and not a serving of each. If you must have more than one item, keep portion sizes small.