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Simple Tips to Keep Holiday Weight Gain at Bay

12/20/2014

The exciting seasons of Christmas and New Year provide us with unique joys, get-together's with family and friends and large holiday parties. But the food surrounding the festivities may lead to an unwanted weight gain and disappointment.

If you follow these simple tips you can enjoy the holidays and have a happy January!

1. Never go to a party hungry. Instead, try a small meal at home with a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate (CHO) or a simple low-sugar protein bar, or ¼ cup of nuts and seeds with a fresh fruit or dried fruit. Your hunger will be much less and your party food choices more appropriate.

2. Caution with high fat foods as fat yields 9 calories per gram, versus protein and carbohydrates yielding 4 calories per gram. Choosing healthful fats contributes to overall health status.

3. Increase your intake of various colored vegetables. They are high in fiber and low in calories and will prevent excessive hunger. They also contain the protective phytochemicals that assist in prevention of colds and flu in the winter months. Start with a high amount of vegetables and green salads at buffets.

4. Everyone deserves a sweet over the holidays! Just be mindful of how much you eat. And remember, a homemade treat without trans fats is much better for you than “junk food,” and tastier as well. Another way to conserve on calories is to eat the apple or pumpkin pie without the crust. You can also try sharing a dessert with a friend.

5. How about a dark roast coffee or a nonfat cafe latte instead of some of the high calorie coffee drinks that “Center for Science in the Public Interest” refers to as “A Milkshake for Grownups." This is one way to refer to an Eggnog Latte, White Chocolate Mocha or Java Chip Frappuccino each of which packs about 600 calories into a "venti”.

6. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol packs almost as high a calorie ratio as fat. One or two glasses of water before you start drinking will quench your thirst and probably cut back on amount of alcohol you include.

7. Consider the two "S"s:  Stress and Sleep.

Holidays bring new stressors, and how we deal with that stress can lead to holiday weight gain.  This season, try looking at your stress differently - by putting your stressors in a perspective of it happening to someone else, you can analyze the situation more objectively. It may help to talk it over with someone you trust so you can see it more clearly. These tips can help defuse the situation.

Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is important to keep your immune system in balance. Adequate sleep is a crucial component to weight control.

8. Last but not least, increase exercise over the holidays. We need to burn those extra calories. Walk with a friend, swim, ski, dance and take the stairs as often as possible. In most cases appetite decreases when you are in a consistent program of exercise.

Happy holidays, and look forward to a healthful January 2015!

Contributed by Renie Tharp, RD Carson Valley Medical Center

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