First and foremost, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. Food is an integral part of the holidays. Give yourself permission to enjoy special foods and the events that surround them. Susie Bond, Dietitian/Nutritionist for Health First Pro-Health & Fitness Centers, offers up some tips and strategies to help fend off holiday weight gain. 

Moderation is the Key 

“I always recommend to my clients that they prioritize their special holiday foods and make a point to enjoy those that they really love and that aren’t hot-apple-cideravailable other times of the year,” Susie said. “Then perhaps it is easier to forgo those items that aren’t so special, such as chips and dip, cheese and crackers, cocktail nuts, cookies and candy.” 

You can easily shave off a few hundred calories by avoiding those ordinary “filler” foods, according to Susie.

When eating at home, take extra care to plan and eat healthful meals, knowing that you will most likely be eating a few “not so healthful” foods elsewhere throughout the season. 

Control Portion Sizes

Use small plates at parties and gatherings. A little bit of food looks like a lot of food on a small plate. Choose a small dessert plate at a holiday buffet, rather than the dinner plate. Stick to a “one trip limit” and don’t even consider going back for seconds. Before you start putting food on your plate, survey the options and make your choices, rather than just starting at the beginning of the buffet line and working your way down. 

At home, eat meals on a luncheon plate. This is a good time to practice good portion control by limiting meat/protein portions to no more than 3-4 ounces, and use a measuring cup to scoop out no more than ½ cup of starchy foods, such as rice, beans, corn and pasta. Be generous with vegetables and fill at least half of your plate with these. 

Meat portions shouldn’t exceed 3-4 ounces; grains and starches should be half-cup portions; a half-cup for fruits and one cup for vegetables. An easy visual to use is to fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables, one-quarter with lean meat, and one-quarter with a whole grain – using a small plate, of course. 

Holiday Eating Pitfalls 

Nutritional landmines are everywhere during the holiday season. Calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar are abundant in many typical holiday foods. You name the vice, it is right there waiting for you. “Awareness is the key here,” she said. “Don’t allow yourself to ‘mindlessly’ pop a half dozen holiday cookies in your mouth. Set a reasonable limit and stick to it.”

Stay Motivated 

Susie Bond, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist at Health First Pro-Health & Fitness Centers

Susie Bond, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist at Health First Pro-Health & Fitness Centers

Set up a holiday exercise schedule. Write it down on your calendar and treat it just like any other appointment, giving it equal priority. Be realistic about planning, and set up a schedule that will work for you. 

“Most people who stick to a regular exercise schedule during the holidays, wake up the morning of January 2 weighing the same as they did the day before Thanksgiving. That is motivation enough for me.” 

Things may come up that interfere with your plan, so give yourself a weekly goal to put in at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. That way, if you miss an exercise session, you can make it up another time before the end of the week. 

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