The holiday season is upon us and with this time of year comes an array of parties and events to attend, and any excuse, let’s be honest, to cook up or, simply, eat lots of tasty holiday treats. Cookies, cake, pie galore! During this season we are tempted with so many decadent spreads of food. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health the average weight person typically gains only a pound over the holiday season. However, overweight and obese people tend to gain five pounds during this time! The big problem is that most people don’t lose the weight gained, thus the pounds obtained over the winter holidays accumulate year by year. This doesn’t have to be YOU! Know that you can enjoy the holidays and maintain your weight and healthy habits. Whether traveling or enjoying the holidays at home, maintenance is KEY. Don’t look to lose weight over the holidays (but if you do, that’s awesome!). Here are a few tips to keep you on track:
1. Follow your meal routine. Eat every three to five hours. Avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals so you can indulge later typically backfires. You may end up eating more than you usually do and your desire to make healthy decisions will go out the window. Tip: eat a healthy snack or meal before you go out so you don’t overindulge at the party. Try to combine some protein with a complex carbohydrate and you may feel full longer. Think a small handful of nuts or a KIND bar and a fresh fruit. Or a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread.
2. Balance your plate. For the party meal, think MyPlate guidelines: ½ of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts or salad, ¼ of the plate can be from protein sources like grilled salmon, sautéed tofu, beans or chicken breast and ¼ starch consisting of pasta, rice or sweet potatoes. Add in small serving of dessert or very small portions of several desserts. Think volume for the vegetables and portion control of the more decadent sides and desserts.
3. Don’t drink your calories. We all love those holiday punches, ciders, cocktails and hot comforting drinks but know what is in your glass before indulging. Always start the party off with water or a glass of seltzer. If you want to get or remain svelte, stick with water or seltzer! If you must imbibe, one to two glasses of wine or 2 oz. of vodka , gin or rum with seltzer or a splash of juice should be your limit. Just an FYI: Egg Nog is one of the richest holiday drinks, containing 350 calories, 19 grams of fat and 22 grams of sugar per serving! CalorieKing (www.calorieking.com) is great website (and FREE app) for nutrition information on drinks and food.
4. Buy healthy whole foods so you eat well at home. Purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, hummus, tofu, fish, chicken, lean meat, nuts and nut butters, whole grains, such as couscous and quinoa, whole grain pasta and cereals and popcorn.
5. Maintain your exercise routine. Exercise helps prevent weight gain and relieves holiday stress. Walking at a brisk pace just 20 minutes every day is beneficial.
6. Aim to maintain weight, not lose it. Enjoy the holiday season and the time you spend with with friends and family. You will get more enjoyment out of laughing with those you are closest to than indulging in unhealthy party foods. Do not let the buffet table become your focus!
Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN is the author of the new ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto (Nirvana Press 2012). She is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a specialty in teen and adult weight management and diabetes. Lisa received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition and her M.A. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She consults with clients in Huntington, New York and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. To find out more about Lisa or to book an appointment, please visit: www.lisastollmanrd.com