By Jill Fleming, MS, RD
Let the holidays begin! Starting with Thanksgiving, many of us will attend several social events and parties up through New Year’s Day. It is tempting to just throw in the towel on our healthy eating and exercise plans until next year, but don’t do it! Avoid eating to the point of feeling “stuffed” at Thanksgiving dinner.
The key is to avoid the “all-or-nothing” way of thinking. If you tell yourself that you can eat, drink and be merry with reckless abandon for 6 weeks, you will pay for it later. Starting a new healthy eating plan January 1st sounds like a good idea, but why would you want to start it with an extra 10 pounds?
The New England Journal of Medicine published findings from a Tuff’s University study on weight gain during the holidays. It found that those who were already overweight were likely to gain more weight during the 6-week holiday period than those who were considered average weight. Here are some simple strategies to help prevent holiday weight gain:
- Take a walk most mornings. This is even more important on the day of a social gathering. Even a 10-minute walk will release the feel-good endorphins that will help control stress. If you have eaten a large meal, take a short walk to help digest your food and regulate your blood sugar level.
- Eat a breakfast that includes some protein and vegetables on the morning of a social event. Maybe a veggie omelet or a peanut-butter & banana smoothie (add a handful of fresh spinach). This helps stabilize blood sugar and control your appetite all day long.
- Eat before the party. Yes, having a snack 1-2 hours before the party will help you feel in control of your appetite once you get there. It will be easier for you to be more selective in your food choices later.
- Socialize away from the buffet table. Once you have a plate of food, move away from the table and sit down to eat.
- Eat like a food connoisseur. Really taste everything that you eat. The enjoyment of eating occurs in your mouth… not your stomach.
- Don’t eat anything that you really don’t want to eat. Just because Aunt Elsie made your favorite pie for you, it doesn’t mean you need to eat the whole thing.
- Alternate any adult beverages with water. For each cup of holiday cheer you drink, you should drink a cup of water. This will help prevent dehydration, which is the main reason you don’t feel well after a night of celebrating. It will also slow down consumption & dilute your alcohol calories in half.
Follow these simple guidelines to enjoy the holidays without gaining extra weight. Once the New Year is here, you can refocus your efforts on losing weight again. For now, your goal should be to maintain your current weight. Enjoy your holiday season guilt free this year!
For more information, please call the Veterans Memorial Hospital Nutrition Services Department at 568-3411.