Weight gain? Not this holiday season

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              It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..but not necessarily if you’re watching your waistline.  How do you get through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s without feeling as stuffed as the turkey?  Gaining weight during the holiday season doesn’t have to be inevitable.  But, it is important for you to know how to take control of your eating habits instead of letting the holiday parties and get-togethers take control of you.  Having a plan to resist the temptation to splurge on large amounts of high-calorie foods, will get you through this season without sabotaging your weight maintenance or weight loss efforts.

·      Don’t skip meals – Many people believe if they skip breakfast or lunch they can save up all those calories for the holiday party that night.  It sounds like a good idea but skipping meals can make you crabby and tired besides the obvious of making you very hungry.  Arriving at a party on an empty stomach only spells disaster as the odds are highly likely you’ll end up eating more calories than the ones you skipped earlier in the day.  Eat breakfast and lunch and you’ll be better prepared to avoid overeating.

·      Eat high fiber foods before the party – Snack on fiber-filled foods justbefore you go.  Fiber helps you feel full preventing you from eating more at the party.  Choose foods with minimal calories such as crisp, fresh vegetables, fruit, a small salad or a small bowl of oatmeal.

·      Eat small amounts of food you love – When you arrive, scope out the food selection at the party before you make any choices.  It’s okay to choose small portions of  items like cookies, pie or chocolates, but fill up the majority of your plate – at least ¾ of the plate - with healthy vegetables, fruit, whole grain crackers, cheese and lean meats.

·      Keep away from where the food is located– If you find yourself standing next to the counter or buffet table where all the irresistible, delicious food is displayed, move.   Choose your food and drink and move to a different part of the room, facing away from the food table.  As they say – out of sight, out of mind. 

 ·      Pace yourself – Resist the urge to pile your plate high with food, eating it rapidly and then going back for seconds.  Slow down.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full.  Set your fork down between bites chewing your food thoroughly and sip some water.  Sit down while you eat. This prevents grazing around the food table.  Enjoy the company of the people around you at the party.  Engaging in a stimulating conversation is a great way to avoid overeating. 

·      Limit your alcohol and calorie-laden beverage intake – It’s fun to trydifferent beverages at a party, but gulping down liquid calories adds up quickly. Start off with a non-calorie beverage to help fill you up initially before trying a beverage with calories.

·      Learn healthy ways to modify holiday recipes –Recipes can easily be modified to reduce the fat and calorie amounts without compromising flavor.  When a recipe calls for oil in cake, brownies or muffins, a good substitution can be equal amounts of a fruit puree such as applesauce.  The fruit will add flavor, moisture and tenderness to the baked good.  In place of whole fat milk products, substitute fat-free or low-fat milk.  Substitute nonfat, plain yogurt for sour cream.  

 ·      Keep physically active - The National Weight Control Registry examined strategies of people who were successful at either controlling or even losing weight during the holiday season.  Their secret?  They maintained an active exercise routine each day and weighed themselves daily.   Cold winter weather doesn’t have to slow you down. In fact, embrace it.  Going outdoors for a brisk walk or even snowshoeing can be quite invigorating.  You’ll burn extra calories due to your body compensating for heat loss.  If exercising in the frigid outdoors is not your idea of a good time, join a gym or exercise class, invest in a treadmill or other exercise equipment you’ll use, use free exercise videos available on the internet or play music to get you moving.  Any extra movement you get in during the day all adds up.

Weight control can be a reality during the holidaysBy adopting these practices along with paying attention to your eating habits, you can get through the holidays with little to no weight gain.  Enjoy the food you do eat – just not too much -  and revel in time spent with family and friends during this beautiful season.