On average, Americans gain weight during the holiday season. While the weight gain may not be dramatic, research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years. But you don’t have to succumb to this progression, say experts.
“There are strategic steps to avoid holiday weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and holiday feasts,” says Sonya Angelone, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.
In preparation for a big holiday party or feast, do not skip meals throughout the day. This may result in overeating later.
“It is especially important to eat breakfast,” says Angelone. “High-fiber and high-protein foods like oatmeal and milk with fruit, an egg and spinach on whole wheat toast, Greek yogurt with nuts, or nut butter on a whole-wheat English muffin will satisfy hunger without a lot of calories.”
Holiday meals tend to be large or buffet-style and include second and third helpings. While most people wouldn’t consider eating an entire cake, a common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthful.
To avoid overeating, use a smaller plate. It will encourage proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Research shows eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite. Before you go back for seconds, wait 10 minutes to see if you really are still hungry.
Including nutrient-rich foods in your diet is great, just remember that these foods have calories too, which should be taken into consideration with your whole eating plan. “And be mindful of alcohol consumption. Drink more water throughout a party to quench your thirst and help keep the cocktails to one or two,” says Angelone.
Remember to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your day to promote health during the holidays — and be sure to involve the whole family
For more healthy holiday tips and information, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. To learn more and find an RDN in your area, visit www.eatright.org.
Having healthful eating and exercise plans for holiday meals will help ensure success throughout the season and all year long.