Good Life

Healthbreak: Avoid gaining holiday pounds

Research shows that most of us gain at least some amount of weight over the holiday season. With all of the temptations of the holiday season, it’s hard not to.

Instead of seeing all of these events as challenges to overcome in maintaining a healthy weight, here are a few tips at how you can help partake in and impart savvy health tips this holiday season:

Plan ahead. Do not go to a party or work gathering hungry. Although you may be tempted to skip breakfast or lunch so you can splurge on dessert later, skipping meals may cause you to consume more calories than you would if you had eaten something beforehand. Before you head out the door, plan to eat a healthy snack such as a small handful of nuts, a small apple with peanut butter, or cucumber slices with hummus. You can also offer to bring a healthy dish to share. Not only will the host greatly appreciate the help, but you will know that you have at least one healthy item to choose from.

Portion control. Start by filling half your plate with foods lower in calories such as celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, salad, or shrimp cocktail. Select smaller portions of the other foods you’ll enjoy. Also, try not to let any of the foods on your plate touch. This will force you to choose and consume smaller portions.

Be mindful of what you drink, too. Besides the calories, alcohol can lower your inhibitions, which can make you more likely to throw caution to the wind. Choose no- or low-calorie beverages to satisfy your thirst.

Practice the one-a-day rule. It’s nearly impossible to make it through the holidays without wanting to indulge in pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, or any other post-meal treat. Try to stick to the one-a-day rule: allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day.

Exercise. Don’t forget that moving more during the holiday season can help battle the bulge. Exercise is usually the first thing to be eliminated with a busy schedule, but it is important that you stick to your regular exercise routine as much as possible during the holiday season. If you’re new to working out, don’t think of it as exercise. Simply think of it as adding more movement to your day. Begin with five minutes of stretches or squats when you wake up in the morning, take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break, and spend 15 minutes playing with the kids after dinner. You’ll likely be surprised to see that you’ve just accumulated 30 minutes of extra movement in your day. Take a friend with you to help motivate each other.

Aim to maintain. Be realistic; deciding to lose weight over the holidays may be a losing game. Instead, strive to maintain your weight. Try not to be hard on yourself. Small amounts of the not-so-good foods should not affect your weight, but over-indulging too much will.

Moderation is the key to a successful holiday season.

Tammy McCormick, RD, CDE, LDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Mount Nittany Physician Group.