8 tips to avoid weight gain over the holidays
The winter months can be the hardest on our diets, as holidays are usually associated with overeating baked goods and big delicious meals. But don’t fret! There are ways to avoid weight gain while being smart about indulging yourself.
“Halloween to Super Bowl Sunday is the ‘National Eating Season,” says Dr. Stacy Orwig, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Roanoke, Ill. “It’s important for us to be conscious about what we are eating over the holidays.”
According to both Dr. Orwig and Lexie Schwartz, a dietitian at Advocate Eureka Hospital, being mindful about what you eat can help keep you from gaining weight this holiday season. Here are some of their tips to keep you on track:
- Pack your grocery cart full of fruits and vegetables that include immune-boosting antioxidants. Try some winter varieties, like sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. Apples, cranberries, and pears make for a tasty topping on a salad, as well.
- Avoid extreme diets, as these can decrease your immune function and lead to illness.
- Drinks are often high in calories, and it can be easy to not think twice about them. Try to reach for water instead of a soda or beer. “Don’t drink your calories,” Dr. Orwig says.
- If you are a guest at a party, try to plan ahead to avoid overindulging:
- Don’t starve yourself beforehand. Rather, eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack including fruit, vegetables, or a handful of nuts so you aren’t tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.
- “Choose carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample, and those you will skip,” says Schwartz. Pick out your favorite dessert and have a serving, but don’t try every single sweet treat that people bring.
- Move away from the buffet or appetizer trays while socializing so you are not tempted to mindlessly eat.
- Make sure that you fill up half of your plate with vegetables. “Corn and potatoes do not count,” says Dr. Orwig.
- If you are told to bring a dish to a dinner, try to bring something that is heart-healthy, like a platter of vegetables with healthy dips like hummus, which is rich in protein and polyunsaturated olive oil. Roasted vegetables with olive oil and salt/pepper are another great alternative.
- If you do bring something rich, leave it there for others to eat. Don’t take it home — limit your temptations.
- If you are hosting a party, try swapping ingredients to make lighter fare that still tastes great.
- Try to incorporate fitness to your daily routine. If joining a gym is not in your budget, there are still things you can do in your own home to help keep your metabolism up. Dr. Orwig recommends 20 minutes of yoga, especially if the season has you under the weather or without time for your normal exercise program.
If you keep these tips in mind and incorporate them into your daily routine, you will be set for the upcoming holiday season. “Make it a goal to maintain your weight during the holiday and you’ll be above average!” says Dr. Orwig.
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