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Maintain, don’t gain during the holidays

Published 7:14pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

We’ve heard this phrase before – but how do we apply it to our lives? The holiday season is filled with all kinds of delicious food. We tend to experience the obligation of eating more than we should, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we visit more than one place that is serving food. Often times we are so eager to eat these delicious holiday foods, that we eat fast which causes us to eat more than what we should for that meal. There are also holiday parties and cookies exchanges that take place around the holidays which put us in the situation of eating more calories. Not to mention receiving gifts such as homemade fudge and peanut brittle!
The phrase “maintain, don’t gain” simply means to work toward maintaining your weight during the holidays instead of gaining weight (by eating more than usual). It is often difficult to lose weight during the holidays, due to the overabundance of holiday foods. Below are some tips to help you “maintain, don’t gain”:
- Choose to eat the foods that you don’t normally eat! If you are able to eat bread or mashed potatoes regularly throughout the year, then don’t put them on your holiday meal plate. Let your holiday meal consist of the “special” foods that you are only able to eat once each year (pumpkin pie, candied yams, etc). This tip can also help you save calories for those special foods that you really want to enjoy eating.
- Slow down when eating! If you chew each bite thoroughly before putting the next bite in your mouth, this will help you eat slower. By eating slower, you will be able to recognize when you are truly satisfied from your meal.
- Take one spoonful of each special item you are choosing to eat! One spoonful allows you to taste & enjoy these foods as well as allow room for you to taste & enjoy other foods. Do try to prevent creating a “plate mountain” (where your food piles up on your plate, similar to a mountain) as this is a good indication that you will be over eating and consuming too many calories for that meal.
- Exercise thirty minutes after you have consumed your meal! Ask your family and friends to take a walk with you. If you are able, play a game of hide-and-seek or flag football in the yard! Make your exercise enjoyable but do try to exercise, so that you can burn some of the extra calories that were consumed from the meal.
- Control your hunger at holiday parties! If you attend a holiday party, avoid standing close to the food table as we tend to grab food to eat. If you are attending a sit-down holiday party, strike up a conversation while you are eating. This will help you eat slower which will help prevent overeating. Conversation is calorie-free! If you are bringing food to a holiday party, try bringing a dish that uses healthy ingredients or healthy substitutions for everyone to enjoy. Also, make sure you are truly hungry, when attending these parties. If you are not hungry, then eating will only cause eventual weight gain.
- Exchange your cookies! If you attend a cookie exchange and come home with a variety of cookies, think about what can help you not consume them! Are you able to give them to your friends and family to enjoy? Are you able to freeze it (like fudge) so you can enjoy it throughout the next year? Can you leave it for Santa to nibble on? While it is okay to enjoy treats on occasion try to avoid leaving these treats where they can be a constant temptation for you to consume (such as: on the counter, on the front shelf of the refrigerator or on your desk).
All-in-all, the holidays are intended to show love and give thanks for all we have received throughout the year. While we tend to do this with serving a meal, keep in mind that you are the only person who decides what you eat and how much you eat! Enjoy your food and Happy Holidays!

Ashley Corbett, MS, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian with Vidant Wellness Center and Vidant Beaufort Hospital.

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