Americans gain about one to two pounds during the holidays. While this doesn’t sound so dramatic, research shows it adds up over the years. Weight gain can increase your blood pressure over time, increase risk for heart disease, and make blood sugars rise. Also, many people don't make efforts after the holidays end to lose all the weight that they gained. Luckily, there are ways to avoid holiday weight gain. And We are here to help you!
Saving your appetite for a big holiday party or feast? Don’t. Skipping meals during the day may result in overeating. It is especially important to have breakfast, as research shows that those who eat this important morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Include lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber-rich foods are high in volume and will satisfy hunger, but are lower in calories.
Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style and include second and third helpings. A common mistake is eating large portions of single foods that are perceived as healthy (like turkey, for example). It's important to include nutrient-rich foods but these foods still have calories and should be eaten in moderation. Choose instead a very small amount of each of the healthier smorgasbord items on the table, and try to keep your plate balanced. Using this approach at the holiday dinner table will allow you to maintain a healthful eating plan — one that can also include dessert. And won't cause much of a weight increase.
There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating. Using a smaller plate, for instance, allows you to put less food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Others who are focused on their health may start a meal by filling their plate half with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees, sides and desserts. Eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds wait for a bit, check instagram or email, watch a youtube video, or do another activity for 10 minutes, to see if you really still are hungry.
Finally, after dinner, get some physical activity. This is a great time to go for a walk and catch up with family members, or play catch or a game of basketball with the kids.
At any holiday party, try to identify what foods will be high fat or sodium for heart disease, and what foods contain carbohydrates before adding them to your plate. This will allow you better control how much you put on your plate so you can get a little of all the carbohydrates you really want, without eating so much that your sugars would be uncontrollable for days.
Need help figuring out how to politely refuse that one Auntie who keeps trying to fill your plate with seconds and thirds? Having trouble navigating around that expertly crafted table setting? How about ways to stick with your personal lifestyle goals? For more information on eating well, contact your Dietitian/Diabetes Educator in the Unified Care app!
Adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, www.eatright.org