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With the Holiday Season Upon Us…
With the holiday season upon us, food is everywhere. From festive holiday parties to dinners with friends and family, let’s face it, this time of year tends to center around food. And, it is perfectly OK to indulge on occasion, sans the guilt, without gaining weight. The trick is to enjoy what you are eating, and to eat mindfully while avoiding overindulging and gaining weight in the process.
For the good news, according to research published in the Journal of” Endocrinology Diabetes and Obesity”, Americans, on average, gain just about five pounds during the holiday season, with overweight individuals gaining a bit more. This is really not too bad, as long as we keep it to just that and get back on track come the New Year.
To help avoid gaining weight this holiday season while also enjoying your favorite foods, here are some strategies that I have used successfully with my patients:
Develop some strategies before you head to the party or the dinner table to help you make healthier choices and to eat smaller portions, especially of high-calorie holiday treats.
The following strategies can help. If one does not work for you, try a different strategy at the next event or use a combination of strategies.
Drink a glass of water before you eat. Water takes up space and is calorie-free.
Start with the fruits and veggies. Many of us don’t eat enough vegetables anyway, so take this opportunity to eat the healthier options first. By the time you get to the cheesecake and chocolate dip, you may find that you have less room to overindulge in high-calorie foods.
Skip the dips and dressings, especially the creamy ones, or opt for a lower calorie version if available.
Eat slowly and wait 20 minutes before you go back for seconds or dessert. From the time you are full, it takes about 20 minutes for your digestive system to get this message to your brain. By waiting 20 minutes, you might find you don’t want seconds or dessert after all.
Try small amounts of multiple foods rather than taking two or three servings of any one food. I like doing this because my portions are smaller and I get to taste more dishes.
Limit your alcohol intake. I love a cup of holiday cheer as much as the next person, but I do not love the empty calories. Sparkling water, juice, and other beverages are good choices instead. There are significant health risks to excess drinking.
If you do have more than one alcoholic drink, make a point to drink a full glass of water between drinks. It will slow you down, fill you up, and help keep you from getting dehydrated. I have a friend who started doing this a few years ago and she drinks less — if for no other reason than she gets tired of trips to the restroom!
If you are hosting a gathering, buy the low-fat cheese for snack trays and recipes. Also buy the lower calorie eggnog. If you make eggnog from scratch, use low fat or nonfat milk.
Before indulging in a holiday treat, stop and ask yourself, “How important is this to me compared to my long-term health goals?” Pausing to ask this question may make that frosted sugar cookie less appealing.
Stick to your exercise routine during the holidays or start one. And if you are feeling inspired, add five or 10 minutes to it.
Make a list of all the good reasons you do not want to gain weight over the holidays or why you want to lose weight after the holidays. Read the list every day and remind yourself of it whenever you are tempted to overindulge.
Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up at one party or cannot resist the homemade fudge someone brought to work. Tomorrow is a new day and you will have another opportunity to do better and feel good about making healthy choices.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HEALTHY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR!!!