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Lighten Up Your Holidays

Nov 17, 09:21 AM

Food and Fitness Fundamentals

As the holidays draw near, so does the fear of those dreaded extra pounds of unwanted weight gain. Many people think the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Years is about 5 pounds; however, several studies suggest it is only 1. But keep in mind, all things being constant, that one pound may be gained simply by consuming one of the following each day for one week:
Espresso with steamed eggnog and milk
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Chocolate martini
Apple Pie
Now that you’ve enjoyed a week’s worth of high-calorie holiday treats, this is what it would take each day for another week to burn off that extra pound of fat you just accumulated.
Walking at a moderate pace – 2 hours
Jogging – 1 hour
Bicycling – 1 hour at moderate pace
Calisthenics or home exercises at a light to moderate pace – 2 hours
Swimming or water aerobics, 2 hours moderate treading of water

Being aware of holiday weight gain now can be valuable in preparing for those upcoming gatherings and festivities.

Tips to help you avoid the holiday blunders

1. Get eating habits in check now, before the holidays. Recognize your current eating routine and acknowledge very specific areas where positive changes can be made. Begin making small gradual changes over time so they are more likely to become a lifelong habit.
2. Set realistic goals during holidays. Instead of trying to lose weight during the holiday, try to simply maintain your current weight. Weight loss is often difficult under any situation, so do not set yourself up for failure this time of year. Instead, think of how happy you will be to have not gained weight come January!
3. Exercise. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever as well as a great way to help ward off extra pounds caused from over eating. Try to step up the intensity and duration of your current exercise routine each day before the holiday festivities begin, and don’t forget that brisk walk Thanksgiving morning!
4. Mindful Eating. Think before you eat. Take time to plan healthy nutritious foods for both meals as well as parties. Eating off of smaller plates will aid in portion distortion, and help keep serving sizes in check. Eat slowly and allow your body to tell you when you are satisfied. When dining out, survey the buffet table before plating your food, so you have a mental idea of what and how much you will eat. Be cognizant you are eating due to hunger and not other reasons, i.e. fatigue, stress, boredom.
5. Limit decadent foods to one per day. The joyous times of family and friends gathering to celebrate should not be a time of deprivation. Instead, plan wisely and allow one reasonable size serving per day. When choosing your favorite high fat/calorie foods, do so when you can truly enjoy them; avoid outside distractions, sit comfortably and eat slowly so you can savor the flavors and just enjoy. Remember to eat only enough to satisfy! It takes only 500 extra calories each day for a week, to gain one pound of fat.
6. Seven servings of fruits and veggies. Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to fill your plate and as well as your stomach. These foods in their natural form provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber as well as satiety, but without the high cost of calories.
7. Stay hydrated. Drinking water or low calorie seltzer throughout the day is a great way to stave off hunger as well as those high calorie party drinks. Limit alcohol and caffeine as they are diuretics and actually cause fluid loss.

The holidays should be a fun and exciting time to gather with friends and family. Although food is often a key focus point, having a relaxed mindset that allows a willingness to practice moderation may be the best holiday eating strategy.

Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!

Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.

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