We blame holiday weight gain on holiday office parties, bad weather, and eating too many cookies. Most of us find ourselves too busy to exercise during the holidays, and make poor meal choices because were stressed or rushed. Or, maybe the festive air makes it easy to rationalize.
Weight gain during the holiday season seems inevitable to lots of peopleits easy to pack on as many as 5 to 10 pounds during the season alone.
With all the excitement over the holidays, we tend to throw away our nutritional good sense, and eat excessively with exercise taking a low priority, says Sandra Nissenberg, a registered dietitian. Then, when the New Year rolls around, we wonder how those extra pounds crept on.
Instead of worrying about calories after the fact, start planning in advance for a healthier holiday season. Many holiday menus can be modified to lower the calories and fat content, often without noticing the difference, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Nissenberg recommends using these strategies to keep your meals and your body lighter:
- Select a plain turkey rather than a self-basting one and remove the skin before serving. (its fattening.)
- Refrigerate gravy or pan juices from the turkey. The fat will rise to the top, which allows you to remove it easily and reduce fat content.
- Make stuffing with lots of vegetables and fruits (celery, onions, cranberries, raisins, apples) and less breadcrumbs.
- Bake sweet potatoes instead of serving them candied.
- Mash potatoes with chicken broth or skim milk instead of whole milk and butter.
- Serve fruit platters in place of high-calorie, high-fat desserts.
- Eat lighter during the day, but dont starve yourself.
- Enjoy the company of others instead of staying close to the food table.
- When you eat, choose foods in moderate portions.
- Be open to healthier recipes, particularly those with less fat and cholesterol.
- Take up outdoor activities to burn off extra calories. Try cross-country skiing, ice-skating, sledding, or going on long walks.
- Use free time to clean your house and decorate for the holidays; the goal is to keep moving.
- Walk the malls for half an hour before they open. Youll keep fit and still get your holiday shopping done.
The key to holiday eating is to avoid an all-or-nothing mindset, the dietetic association notes. Depriving yourself of certain foods, or feeling guilty when you do enjoy them, isnt part of a healthy eating strategy.
With moderation and conscious meal planning, you can enjoy holiday eating, avoid weight gain, and stay healthy.