Everyone looks forward to the holidays and all the joy that a wonderfully prepared meals provides. It may be wise to take heed and plan to avoid the weight gain that sometimes comes with these happy occasions. Here are a few tips:
- Focus on weight maintenance not weight loss.
- Eat your favorite foods, but enjoy them in moderation. Listen to your body and stop eating when you are full.
- Increase physical activity to relieve stress, regulate appetite and burn up extra calories. Sign your family up for a holiday race or lead a family walk after the meal.
- Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties (fruit, yogurt, string cheese). It’s dangerous to go to a holiday event hungry.
- Plan ahead and visualize yourself eating the vegetables and limited portions. If you are bringing snacks to share, make a healthy option like a veggie platter with low fat dip, a fruit salad or a big vegetable-filled salad with light dressing. Aim for half of your plate to be vegetables.
- Take steps to avoid social eating – eat what you want but eat slowly and savor each bite. Don’t position yourself next to the food. If you want something to eat, make yourself a plate and walk away from the food table.
- Reduce the fat in holiday recipes. Use low-fat and low-calorie substitutes such as skim milk, reduced fat whip cream, or replace oil or butter with applesauce.
- Choose your beverages wisely. Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per occasion. Try a festive mock-tail by mixing carbonated water and a splash or cranberry or grapefruit juice.
- Enjoy the company and relax. Make it a point to spend most of your time chatting and catching up with friends.
- Maintain perspective: overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. Two months of holiday parties can lead to gradual weight gain.
Use these tips and plan ahead to keep your Holiday season a healthy one!
Rita Mingesz and Katie Merriman are both dietitians at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center.