The holidays are right around the corner and what that means for most Americans is way too much eating. The average American gains between 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years-which is likely caused because of all the extra food eaten and lack of exercise. What’s more, many of those who gain weight never lose the full amount gained. As you know, this can be a huge problem for the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Fear not, though, there are several steps you can take in order to avoid that “holiday hangover”.
1. Don’t go to parties hungry! If you go to holiday parties or get togethers hungry there is a strong likelihood that you’ll eat more of the high calorie foods being offered, and that you’ll overeat. Make sure to snack on healthy foods throughout the day before you attend parties.
2. Choose cocktails wisely. Skip the eggnog and sweet mixed drinks, and stick to light beer or wine. Limit yourself to a glass or two. If you want to make your white wine last, add calorie-free club soda and turn it into a spritzer.
3. Make dessert count by choosing only the best! Got to have dessert? Take your time and look around first. If nothing looks worthy of winning an award, save it for another time. If you see something that looks stellar, take a small portion. Always think to yourself “is the taste worth the calories”.
4. Use smaller plates! Many holiday parties have food served in a “buffet” style. By using smaller plates, you are more inclined to eat less food.
5. Walk it off! Between the hustle-bustle of the holiday season and the cold, dark weather, many forget to get out and move. Exercise is critical to maintaining weight. Find beautiful, outdoor scenery, grab your coat and hat, and get outside and walk!
6. Enjoy the party! Food is great, but people are better. Dance or catch up with friends and family, and be sure to do it far away from the food table!
The Richmond County Cooperative Extension will be offering a free program called Holiday Challenge: Maintain Don’t Gain in order to assist people in maintaining weight throughout the holiday season. For more information about this or other programs, please contact Extension Agent Sarah Mammarella, MS, RD, LDN at 910-997-8255.