Weight Control Tips for the Holiday Season

Last Editorial Review: 7/18/2006

The holiday season is here, and along with the season arrives an array of wonderful foods! Of course we all know that this means extra calories, and added pounds. However, it is possible to enjoy some of the holiday treats without "packing it on." Netty Levine, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's outpatient Nutrition Counseling Center notes, "The key to successfully navigating the holiday season is to plan ahead, outlining for yourself a practical weight management strategy that doesn't leave you feeling deprived during the holidays, but will also help you avoid weight gain."

We have all heard the usual tips to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, however Ms. Levine has offered a few new ones (and we at MedicineNet.com agree) that some of these are a breath of fresh air!

  • Instead of "going on a diet," try changing the proportions of the foods you eat -- both at home and at holiday parties. Divide your plate into three sections and fill half of it with fresh fruit and/or steamed vegetables, one-fourth with starch and one-fourth with protein.

  • Enjoy those special holiday foods in moderation (use them like condiments). Pass on the everyday foods like crackers and dip. Instead, take small portions of special holiday items.

  • Do a "trade-off." Eating more during the holidays can be -- in part -- offset by a moderate and daily increase in physical exercise. Don't have an hour to spare? Try 10-15 minute brisk walks at intervals throughout the day.

  • Before going to a party, try eating a small portion of something healthy at home first. For example, you could munch on some vegetable sticks or wedges of fruit. This will help curb your appetite and you'll be less tempted to over-indulge on calorie rich foods at the party.

  • At parties and other social events, gravitate toward the veggies and fresh fruit.

  • Head for the non-alcoholic drinks table. Alcohol can stimulate your appetite and also contains a high number of "empty" calories. One glass of wine can contain 100 calories. Try alternating a sip of wine with a sip of water.

  • Skip high calorie beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies and blended coffee drinks. There are nearly 150 calories in one 12 oz. can of soda or juice. Smoothies and coffee drinks are often 250-500 calories, excluding the whipped cream.

  • Avoid skipping meals. Starving yourself before a party or get-together increases the odds that you'll overeat once you get there.

  • At holiday meals, try eating more of the smoked or roasted turkey and less of the stuffing, gravy and pie. Turkey is naturally lower in fat and calories.

  • If the holiday party is at your house, send the leftovers home with your guests.

  • Nibble. Eating more slowly helps you eat less and still feel satisfied.

  • During the holidays, make your goal to maintain your weight - not to lose weight.

  • Be positive. Remember that you control your weight; it doesn't control you.

The preceding information has been provided with the kind permission of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.


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