ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The holidays are meant to celebrate good times with family and friends and the first thing most think about is the food. Gathering with loved ones and sharing a special meal around the table is the epitome of the holiday season, but for some it can lead to weight gain. Research shows that weight gained during the holiday season accounts for 51% of annual weight gain, meaning that the holiday pounds aren’t lost throughout the year.
Indulging in high-fat goodies and sugary treats every week will take a toll on your health, but you don’t have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without increasing your waistline. But there are ways to navigate the season without the holiday bulge.
Plan ahead. Take note of parties and holiday meals on your calendar and make healthier choices throughout the week prior to the event.
Never arrive hungry. Eat a nutritious and filling snack such as a serving of fruit, a side salad, fat-free yogurt and a glass of water 30 minutes before arriving to the event
Mingle away from the buffet. Talk to friends and family away from the food to avoid mindless snacking. Try using a small plate to get food, then walking into another room to chat so you will be less likely to go back for seconds.
Do not drink your calories. Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories, and because we drink instead of eat them, we fail to recognize the amount of calories we consume in them. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and increases the likelihood to go back for seconds of those less-healthy treats.
Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full, so eat slowly to avoid overeating. Try to take smaller bites and savor the flavors. Be mindful of your body and the foods you are eating.
Bring the healthy option. If you are going to a potluck, bring a salad, vegetable side, or fresh fruit to ensure a healthy dish is available.
Remember to de-stress. Do not let stress build and affect your eating habits and health. Remember to unwind by taking a few minutes every day to relax.
Exercise. Physical activity not only helps reduce stress, it also helps keep weight in check. If you do not have a large chunk of time to work out, go for a quick 15 to 20 minute walk, do a few laps around the mall before shopping, or hit the dance floor at a party.
Start new holiday traditions. Often the holiday events focus around a meal, but you can start new non-food holiday traditions with friends and family. Read a favorite story together, walk downtown and enjoy the decorations, play games after dinner instead of watching TV, enjoy music and dancing, go caroling, or share favorite holiday memories.
Get creative with new holiday recipes. With an infinite number of healthy recipes available at our finger tips, it has never been easier to start eating healthy, even through the holidays. Whether starting a new recipe from scratch or just substituting out an item or two, big benefits can be reaped with making these small changes.
These are just a few ways to avoid that holiday bulge. For a more personalized approach, speak with a primary care manager or a nutritionist to better meet your needs.