Did you know that the average American gains about 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per year with the majority of the gain occurring between November and December. Can you guess why? Yep! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are not very good at promoting healthy eating habits. All those chocolates, cookies, and endless buffets can make it difficult to avoid temptations, but it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips to have healthier holidays:
- Don’t skip meals: Have a big holiday dinner party tonight? Plan on eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, plus some healthy snack throughout the day and especially before you go. This will prevent you from becoming over-hungry and eating everything in sight once you get there.
- Keep your distance: Don’t sit yourself down next to the chips and dip, and choose the seat furthest from the buffet. This will make you less likely to go back for more.
- Fill at least half your plate with the healthy stuff: That means, at least half (more won’t hurt!) of your plate should have lean meat (white meat with no skin), non-starchy vegetables/salad (sorry, mashed potatoes don’t count), and whole grains.
- Be realistic: Don’t tell yourself to not eat any desserts at Thanksgiving dinner. When everyone is enjoying his or her pie, you are not going to want to sit empty-plated. You might also end up throwing your goal out the window and overeating dessert. Setting realistic goals (like only having half a slice of pie and some fruit) that are achievable can make you feel much better about yourself and encourage you to set and achieve your goals in the future.
- Don’t wait until new years to make a resolution: This goes right along with tip number 4. Set yourself some holiday goals to keep you on track, but don’t be unrealistic and set yourself up for failure. This is not the time of year to try to lose weight but maintaining your weight is manageable. Make some daily, weekly, and monthly goals to resist all the holiday temptations.
It is important to remember that it takes about 3500 excess calories to gain one pound (that means 500 extra calories per day for a whole week). One more cookie, an extra scoop of stuffing, or your favorite pie is not going to kill you, but it will add up. Pick and choose when to indulge and keep the rest of your days and meals light and healthy.
Finally, just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. Holiday shopping, cleaning, and cooking means lots of walking and time on your feet, which can help keep off the holiday pounds. Try parking in the furthest spot from the store, taking the stairs in the mall instead of the escalator, or taking an extra lap around the grocery store before you check out. It might sound sill but all the little things add up!