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This Holiday Season, Gain Memories Not Pounds

Kaci Adams, MS, RD, LD

Ready or not, here it comes…the holiday season that is, which means time for celebrations often centered around traditional comfort foods, festive drinks, and tantalizing desserts….egg nog and Christmas cookies anyone? So, it is no wonder that most Americans gain more than presents and memories during the holiday season. However, Americans are not the only ones susceptible to weight gain during the holidays. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that holiday weight gain, specifically from Christmas to New Years, is common all around the world. On average, Germans gain 1.8 lbs, Americans gain 1.3 lbs, and Japanese gained 1.1 lbs from Christmas to New Year’s (1).

Are holiday pounds inevitable or is there a way to prevent those dreaded pounds from reappearing every year?

Are holiday pounds inevitable or is there a way to prevent those dreaded pounds from reappearing every year?

The answer is yes; you can enjoy the holidays while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight! The key to successfully maintaining your weight throughout the holiday season is practicing mindful eating and focusing on making memories with your friends and family instead of on the food and drinks. Follow the tips below for a cheerful and healthy holiday season!

Physical activity- Maintaining physical activity during the holiday season is essential for helping you burn off extra calories, reduce added stress that may arise during the holidays, and preserve a healthy mindset throughout the day.
Do not skip meals- It is important to consume consistent, nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent hunger spikes. On an empty stomach, it is more difficult to avoid and portion control enticing treats that may sneak up throughout the day.

Do not skip meals- It is important to consume consistent, nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent hunger spikes. On an empty stomach, it is more difficult to avoid and portion control enticing treats that may sneak up throughout the day.

Do not arrive hungryTry to consume a light (100-200 calorie) snack before heading to a holiday party to prevent overeating. Healthy options would be a small apple with 6-10 nuts, carrot sticks with 2 Tbsp. hummus or guacamole, a light yogurt, or string cheese.

Set an alcoholic beverage limit and sip on water- Alcoholic beverages can be packed with hidden calories. For example, 1 cup of egg nog contains 223 calories, a Cosmopolitan martini contains 220 calories, and a 12 oz craft beer can range from 150-250 calories! Set a drink limit to 1-2 drinks at parties and sip on water between alcoholic beverages. Choose lighter options such as light beer (90-110 calories), dry red or white wine (120 calories), or 1.5 oz vodka mixed with seltzer water and lime (64-80 calories).

Avoid drinking your calories- Tis the season for tempting hot beverages…after all, Starbucks holiday specialty drinks are available around every corner, hot chocolate takes you back to your childhood, and spiced apple cider warms the soul. But beware-these comforting drinks are bursting with sugar and calories. For example, a Grande peppermint mocha from Starbucks can provide a whopping 400 calories and 54 grams of sugar, and a small hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts contains 220 calories and 30 grams of sugar. Try to limit these tempting holiday beverages, and choose lighter options such as the skinny peppermint mocha made with skim milk (160 calories and 13g sugar) or a cappuccino made with skim milk (80 calories and 10g sugar).

Portion control- It is important to try to limit the amount of foods you consume at holiday parties. A couple tips for controlling your portions include: portioning foods out onto a plate instead of “grazing” mindlessly throughout the night, eating off smaller plates, and avoiding going back for seconds.

Maintain Color on your plate- Aim to make your plate as colorful as possible at holiday parties and gatherings. Filling your plate with colorful, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables can help keep you full and satisfied while saving you excess calories and weight gain.

Stay in Control- Offer to host or bring a dish to parties so you can control the nutrition content of the dishes. Vegetable and fruit trays, nut mixes, or whole wheat crackers with cheese are nutritious party options.

Enjoy your family and friends- Remember that the holidays are for making memories with your family and friends. Avoid standing around the food and beverage tables and buffets. Instead, spend time talking with your loved ones, playing games, and laughing during gatherings and parties. This will not only fill you with joy but will also distract you from all the tantalizing treats.

Last, but not least…Do not deprive yourself- In the end, the holidays are for celebrating so remember to enjoy yourself. Depriving yourself can often lead to overeating later. Furthermore, if you follow the above tips the majority of the time, it is ok to allow yourself the occasional Christmas cookie or dessert, a helping of your favorite traditional holiday dish, or a glass of your desired holiday spirit. Just remember to do so in moderation. Scan the buffet tables to acknowledge all of the food and beverages options before choosing which treat means the most to you. Do not eat something just because it is there; only reach for the treats that you love and get a small portion of them.

Remember, accountability is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during difficult times such as the holidays. Recruit an accountability partner in one of your friends or family members or contact Avance Care Nutrition Services at (877) 390 5525 to schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians for added motivation and support!

References:
1. http://www.livescience.com/56206-holiday-weight-gain-america-japan-germany.html
2. https://www.starbucks.com/menu/catalog/nutrition?drink=all#view_control=nutrition
3. https://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/hotbeverages/hotchocolate/hot_chocolate.html

Categories: Healthy Living,  Uncategorized
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