12 Tips to a Healthier Holiday Season

You Can Start The New Year On A Lighter Note

The holidays can be a time of overindulgence and weight gain for many of us. Family gatherings and holiday parties with friends are part of what make the season so special.

Sweet concoctions, baked goods and traditional recipes abound, and it’s hard not to want to take part in all that the season has to offer.

Even the most disciplined eaters can fall prey to the seductive abundance with the idea that January first will be the start of a new and healthier lifestyle. After all, isn’t that what new year’s resolutions are all about?

The average person gains 5 to 10 pounds between Halloween and Christmas. That translates to anywhere from 17,500 to 35,000 extra calories that have to get burned to get back to a pre-holiday weight. One would have to run 175 to 350 miles to lose those extra helpings of stuffing and dessert.

What if you could go into the new year without making that resolution to lose those holiday pounds? Here are a few tips to help you reach that goal.

• Never go to a holiday event on an empty stomach. Have a light snack an hour before you leave so that you aren’t famished when you get there.

• Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Believe it or not, it can help cut cravings and help minimize overeating.

• Eat a healthy breakfast every day. This boosts metabolism and helps to curb overeating later.

• Avoid the punch and eggnog. They come loaded with sugar and fat. Spend the extra calories on the food instead as liquid calories can rack up much faster.

• Before indulging in the more calorie dense foods, hit the veggie tray or start with a green salad.  These items take a bit longer to eat and can take the edge off before reaching for the goodies.

• If asked to bring a side dish, volunteer to bring a salad or veggie tray. That way, you are guaranteed to have that as a choice.

• Go easy on the holiday spirits. Not only does alcohol contribute to empty calories, it causes blood sugar to drop, causing you to crave high-calorie foods and weakening your resolve to watch what you eat. It can even temporarily slow down metabolism.

• If you do partake in some holiday cheer, alternate with a glass of water to help you keep hydrated and monitor your intake.

• Don’t avoid holiday foods. Take a small helping equivalent to a couple of bites of each item. This way, you don’t feel deprived and you get to taste everything.

• Don’t forget to exercise. An hour of moderate exercise four to five times a week will help burn extra calories. Adding a brisk 30-minute walk after a heavier meal will also boost digestion and metabolism, and help negate the effects of eating more.

• Try not to let the holidays stress you out. Stress can lead to overeating and eating the wrong foods. What is less known is the effect of stress on fat burning. Cortisol, the stress hormone, will actually block your body from burning fat.

• Lastly, try to make the holidays more about family and friends rather than food. Believe me, when all is said and done, you will go into the new year healthier and happier.

 

Corie Goodson, MPH, CNC, earned her master’s degree in public health in 1993. She is a health educator, wellness promotion speaker, author and certified nutrition coach.