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Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

It’s that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner — frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at the neighbor’s, or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you’re like most Americans, you’ll put on a pound or two by New Year’s Day. The old saying, “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”, is a self-fulfilling prophesy. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.

Here are a few tips to keep the holiday pounds off this year:

  • Never arrive hungry at a party. Have a nutritious snack beforehand. Drink water to fill up your stomach and silence your appetite before filling your plate.
  • Keep your attention on something other than food. Many people forget that there’s more to a holiday party than eating. Chatting is a great diversion, whether you’re at a small family dinner or a large party.
  • Pace yourself. Chew slowly and take a few moments between bites to help your stomach signal your brain when you are full. Try not to overeat. The goal is to feel full, not uncomfortable.
  • Utilize portion control at the buffet. When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don’t stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story.
  • Be choosy about sweets. When it comes to dessert, be very selective.
  • Bring your own treats. Whether you’re going to a friend’s party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you’ll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.
  • Get some exercise. Sweeping, vacuuming, dishwashing and other chores can help burn calories. Or you can make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for a while.

Here are some additional ideas to use to prevent holiday weight gain.

  • Keep to your meal routine. Try to eat at roughly the same times each day.
  • Go reduced-fat. Choose low-fat foods when possible.
  • Up on your feet. Stand up for 10 minutes every hour.
  • Think about your drinks. Choose water or calorie-free drinks, and limit alcohol.
  • Mark all of the holiday events you’ll be attending on your calendar so that you’ll remember to plan ahead.
  • The workplace can be hazardous around the holidays; holiday lunches and office parties can make it difficult for even the most health-conscious employee to make smart choices.
  • Start new traditions that don’t revolve around food. For example, attend a holiday concert or show, or take a drive or walk to see holiday lights.

Finally, keep in mind the holidays don’t last forever. Maintaining a regular routine when it comes to meal planning and eating habits is the most important part of minimizing weight gain the whole year through. Moderation is all things, whether its food intake, alcohol, or exercise will help build healthy habits.

Preventing weight gain over the holidays can be a challenge. But it is possible!

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