It’s what nobody wants to get but nearly everybody does during the holidays – an extra pound or two. But a few simple tips from Southwest Health District can help make it easier to eat healthy without gaining weight despite the temptations of the season.
“Conventional wisdom is that typical holiday weight gain is about five pounds,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant. “In reality, it is probably a little less. But the catch is that even a little bit of holiday weight gain is hard to lose. And when you add that to the weight that most adults tend to gain over time, it can lead to problems.”
The answer, she said, is to have a plan.
“You don’t have to give up all of your holiday favorites if you make healthy choices and limit portion sizes,” Grant said.
Before going to a gathering, she said:
- Eat a healthy snack to avoid overeating at the party
- Ask what food will be served, to see how it fits into your meal plan
- Bring a nutritious dish for yourself and others
Grant offered other simple suggestions as well:
- In a buffet setting, fix your plate, and move away if possible – mingle instead of parking in front of the food
- Choose smaller portions
- Select fruit instead of cakes, pies and other desserts high in sugar, fat and cholesterol
- Select low-calorie beverages
- Avoid salt-heavy dishes
- Look for side dishes that are light on butter, dressing and other extra fats and sugars (such as marshmallows or fried vegetable toppings)
- Eat slowly
- Pick leaner treats – turkey trimmed of fat and without gravy; ham without honey glaze
In addition, said Grant, focus on friends and family. “Take a walk after a meal. There may be dancing or other activities you can participate in at holiday gatherings, and you should take advantage of those. Plus, you should continue to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week as part of a healthy lifestyle. Being active and eating healthy, along with being tobacco-free, managing stress and having routine physical check-ups are the five mainstays of a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Finally, said Grant, be realistic.
“This is a joyous time of year, a time of celebration,” she said. “I would not encourage you to try to diet during the holidays, just aim to maintain your present weight. Eat healthy, and if you have been exercising, keep it up. If you have not been getting enough exercise, it is a good time to start. And remember, the New Year – and the time for New Year resolutions – is right around the corner.”
For more information about healthy holiday eating, contact your local county health Department or go online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.