Getting a grip on holiday girth
Turkey, ham, cookies and pies are some holiday treats that can stick to your thighs. But if you’re careful, you won’t have to let out the waistband of your pants to enjoy them.
There’s a common myth out there that people gain five to 10 pounds over the holiday season. Fortunately, it’s not true. The New England Journal of Medicine found that, on average, American adults gain one pound during the period from mid-November through New Year’s Day. That doesn’t seem like so much, right?
But, according to Mary Carroll, a registered dietitian with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., the problem is that these pounds add up over the years, and a pound here and there can contribute to extra weight that can lead to long-term health problems.
Fear not! Even with all celebratory temptations, Carroll says there are things that everyone can do to keep the calories from climbing and fat from forming during the festivities.
Here are five tips Carroll says to keep in mind when enjoying the holidays this season:
- Eat healthy before going to holiday gatherings. Think of your next holiday party as grocery shopping without the long lines and bad music (hopefully). Then follow that grocery store rule at parties – don’t go on an empty stomach. We all know it is harder to keep from filling our plates (or our shopping carts) to the brim when our stomach is growling.
- Avoid drinking too many empty calories. Many people forget about beverages when they are trying to keep the calorie count down. A single mug of apple cider can contain as many as 125 calories, a glass of wine 300 calories, a cup of eggnog 450 calories…you get the picture.
- Watch your portion size. It is perfectly fine to indulge in the holiday fare, as long as you do it in moderation. Try not to fill your plate, and if there is a plate size option, chose the smaller one.
- Keep moving. Make sure your body has the ability to burn off any excess calories you take in. If you have a regular exercise routine, stick to it, and add a few more minutes on the treadmill or a few additional reps on the weight machines. If you haven’t worked out in a while, now is a great time to start. Simply taking a regular brisk walk, even for only five or ten minutes each time, can make a difference.
- Try some healthy holiday recipes. It’s ok to keep the traditional fatty, high-calorie foods included in your celebrations, but if you add in some healthy recipes, you’ll be more likely to keep your calories in check. Find some healthy recipes your family will love.
So what’s the takeaway?
“You don’t have to be the Grinch to keep the weight off this holiday season, as long as your celebrate smart,” Carroll says.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.