It’s that wonderful time of the year when most of our country celebrates the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and, New Years with our friends and family. These are long traditions dating back into our collective history, which offered thanks for life events such as harvest of crops and religious gatherings.
The holiday season starts at Thanksgiving and can last 6 weeks – that’s a long time to enjoy the wonderful high calorie food, drinks and treats that come with it. Gaining weight during the holiday season is a national pastime. Most of us pack on 2-5 pounds year after year and keep that extra weight permanently. That can amount to obesity through the years and contribute to chronic disease such as diabetes, heart, hypertension and joint problems.
How can we manage the excess weight that contributes to these health issues? Here are some suggestions from health care providers.
Eat less and exercise more is the formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays!
Get Active! Increase your walking amounts to 5,000-10,000 steps per day. You can monitor this by putting your cell phone/step counter in your pocket. Walk outside at lunch or in a big building you can take a walk around the halls. Fire up that treadmill or exercise bike you may have in the house. It also helps to have a buddy or family members to motivate each other.
Weigh Daily. Get on that dreaded scale. If you’ve gained 1-2 pounds since the previous day, make sure you eat healthier, lower calorie meals today. We know that 1 pound can happen by eating 500 extra calories a day.
Lighten Up Your Calories. Substituting can decrease the fat and sugar in your holiday recipes. Use fat-free chicken broth instead of regular. Use sugar substitutes such as splenda to bake with and in recipes that use sugar. Reduce oil and butter and use substitutes such as less-fat butter or margarine. Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips and mashed potatoes. Diabeties-friendly recipe websites can help you find useful and healthy substitutions – a great one to check out is www.diabetesfoodhub.org because it’s created and managed by the American Diabetes Association.
Don’t Waste Your Calories! When you do choose to eat your favorite, decadent holiday foods, don’t waste your calories on food you can eat any time of the year. Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites, and enjoy every single bite!
Skip the Seconds. Limit yourself to one plate. Then, you’ll have room for that amazing homemade pie that Grandma only makes once a year.
Eat Slower. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. Put year fork down between bites and engage in conversation. The idea is to give yourself time to feel full before you get to that stage where you’ve eaten too much and you regret it.
Don’t Tell Others That You’re Trying to Control Your Weight. That sabotages you as most people need to also do that. Some people will try to talk you out of it by saying, “It’s the holidays – eat & be merry!” Be STRONG; just tell them you aren’t hungry and have eaten enough. Then drink sugar free drinks, munch on vegetables, go for a drive, or take a walk.