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The holiday season will soon be upon us, which means get-togethers with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it’s also a time for overeating and weight gain.
“On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holidays. While this weight gain isn’t dramatic, research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years,” says Jessica DeCostole, MS, RD, a dietitian educator in the Good Health Center at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.
“Mindless eating is a big part of the problem,” DeCostole notes. “Luckily, you can avoid putting on extra pounds by planning ahead.” Here are a few simple strategies:
- Do not skip meals before a big holiday party as this may result in overeating. Instead, eat a smaller meal or a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to overindulge.
- Try to maintain a balanced diet. Be sure to pick a food from each food group— protein, carbohydrates and vegetables— and include more of the latter. Vegetables are fiber-rich foods that fill you up and are lower in calories. But remember, while it’s important to include healthy foods in your diet, all food should be eaten in moderation.
- Use a smaller plate. This keeps you from putting too much food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts.
- Be aware of the beverages you consume. Alcohol, in particular, is high in calories. For example, a standard 12-ounce beer has 150 calories while a shot of vodka alone has about 100 calories. Mix that with fruit juice or soda, both of which are full of sugar, and the calories really add up. Alcohol can also lessen inhibitions and induce overeating. Stick to one drink if you can. If you decide to have more than one, drink a glass of water in between.
“Focus on the social aspect of the occasion. Spend time talking to your family and friends. Think about what you are celebrating, not just how good the food is. And after eating, get in some physical activity,” DeCostole suggests. “It’s a great time to go for a walk or play a game of catch with the kids.”
For more information, call 410-248-8322 for a free Healthy Recipes guide.