Each year, many of us have a conversation with ourselves just before the holidays start. This conversation usually takes place after the first gift basket arrives at the office or one of your neighbors brings over a pie in the flavor of apple, pumpkin, or pecan. When this happens, we realize that the holidays are upon us. For many, this triggers the “you better watch it because you don’t want to gain 10 pounds like you did last year” panic. However, it also seems that every year, coincidentally with the timing of Thanksgiving, we roll our high hopes for healthy eating into a goal for the New Year instead.
The average person gains seven to 10 pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Research attributes some of this to unrealistic goals and expectations. Instead of limiting yourself from everything fattening this year and binging during a moment of weakness, follow these tips to keep your mind and body jolly all season long.
Set realistic exercise goals
Not only are the holidays hard on our body because of all the sweets and large portions of food readily available, but with all the gatherings that book up the month of December, there is limited time to spend hours in at the gym. Often, people make the mistake of taking off the month all together since they cannot stick to their usual routine. However, working out even once or twice a week is better than not working at all. It also helps to change your workout schedule, even if it is just for a month. Go to the gym in the mornings instead of at night, so you can have that cookie guilt free. For others, investing in DVDs or even looking up free classes on YouTube might make your schedule more flexible. Even researching five-minute workouts that you can do while brushing your teeth or waiting for water to boil can keep you in shape as you run around doing holiday errands. Most importantly, don’t throw in the towel all together on physical activity; something is better than nothing.
Wait it out
When you see a buffet of food laying across a table, it’s tempting not to plop everything on your plate and devour it, but it takes most people 20 minutes to realize that they are full. A good way to ensure that you don’t overeat is to eat slowly. Then when you start to feel full, back away from the plate. Help a friend out and clean dishes instead.
Don’t waste calories on foods you hate
You may hate nuts, but every year when your co-worker brings in her famous white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, you try two. Instead of wasting all those bad sugars and carbs on something you don’t love, save them. Then, when you go home and have that leftover cheesecake, it will taste so much better.
Between shopping on the weekends, shoveling out the driveway, and trying to get the kids to school on time, it can be difficult to remember to drink water the way you normally do. When we are hungry, our bodies react in the same way as when we are thirsty. Therefore, if you have eaten recently and you still feel hungry, try chugging some water and see if that hunger is still there.
Splurging for one or two days out of the month isn’t going to cause significant weight gain. However, when you have left unhealthy, but delicious, food in your fridge, it seems like a no brainer to use it up before it goes bad. Unfortunately, that is how a lot of holiday weight gain happens. Bring it to work, church, or look up recipes to turn it into something new (and healthier).
To get more information about the nutrition program at Harrington, speak to your primary care provider.
Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Parsnips and Garlic
Yukon Gold Potatoes 5 each
Parsnips, pealed 5 each
Olive Oil ¼ cup
Garlic 1 head
Goat Cheese ¼ cup
Milk, 1% 2 cup
Salt ½ tsp
Pepper ½ tsp
Method of Preparation:
Submitted by Chef Tyler Reinhart, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist at Harrington HealthCare System.
Also, see our Outpatient Nutrition brochure here.