Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

    If you’re like most Americans, the calendar year ends with more than just festivities – extra pounds creep in and make New Year’s weight-loss efforts even harder. The good news is that the weight gain is not as much as you might think – just over one pound on average. The bad news? That pound tends to stick around and accumulate year after year…but it doesn’t have to be this way!

    Challenge yourself this year to think of strategies NOW to avoid weight gain later. My advice? Don’t worry if you don’t lose weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Planning ahead or purchasing a calorie-controlled meal plan can help. Set a goal to maintain your weight during this time and when New Year’s Day comes around, you’ll be glad you did.

    Put these tips into practice this holiday season:

    1. Load up on fruit and vegetables.

    Focus on what you should include in your diet, like fruits and vegetables, instead of always focusing on what you shouldn’t eat (fats and sweets). Taking this inclusive approach to nutrition can improve weight loss success and your overall health. Nutritionists use a term called “high nutrient density,” when referring to foods that give you the most amount of nutrients (and feelings of satiety) for the fewest calories. Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and lean proteins like Greek yogurt, skinless chicken breast and fish top the list of nutrient-dense foods.

    2. Give (and ask to receive) the gift of health!

    Give an assortment of teas, a session with a nutritionist or personal trainer or a week of a healthy meal delivery service. This can help inspire someone you care about to get on track and begin the upwards spiral of health – eating more healthfully leads to more energy, more energy prompts you to exercise, exercise helps you sleep better, etc., etc.

    3. Lighten your favorite holiday dishes.

    Substitute applesauce for oil in baked goods, use less butter in whipped potatoes, and decrease the amount of sugar in your favorite cookie recipe. In most cases, no one will notice the culinary changes! Or, challenge yourself to just skip some of the traditional foods that pack in calories and fat – stuffing, pecan pie, cheesy casseroles, and…

    4. Watch alcohol intake.

    Did you know that a mixed drink contains as many as 200-300 calories? If you stick to a glass of wine you’ll cut that number in half. A 5 oz. glass of red wine contains about 125 calories and a plant nutrient called resveratrol that is thought to have heart-healthy benefits. The current nutrition guideline for alcohol is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Another important note about alcohol is that it can cloud judgment and lower your resolve when it comes to overeating. In other words, you may not be able to resist that dessert buffet after downing a cocktail!

    5. Find time to exercise throughout the day.

    Studies show that three 10-minute bouts of exercise are as effective as one 30-minute session. Challenge yourself to find 10 minutes, even on your busiest days! Try 10 minutes of sit-ups and push-ups in the morning, taking a 10-minute walk before lunch, and 10 minutes of jumping jacks or stair-climbing after dinner. Extra activity means you will have room for a few extra calories in your diet this holiday season.

    6. Eat a healthy snack or meal before you go to that holiday party.

    It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you show up hungry you’ll find yourself downing the cheese, fried appetizers and holiday candy at the party. Instead, plan to arrive satiated and ready to focus on the festivities and socializing. Alternatively, you can plan to bring your own healthy dish to share. Prepare a fruit or veggie platter to add to the holiday fare. A plate full of carrots, pepper slices and cucumbers will total less than 100 calories, whereas the same amount of crackers, cheese and dip can add up to 300 calories or more.

    7. Start a healthy tradition.

    Take a walk around the neighborhood after your holiday dinner or start an annual friends and family football game in the park. The holidays don’t have to be all about watching games on TV – instead get everyone moving and stir up some friendly competition. Another idea is to take a walking “tour” of the holiday sights. In my neighborhood, walking through the lines of Christmas trees for sale at the local market is a family favorite. You could also try building a snowman, walking door-to-door caroling, or simply strolling the block to look at the holiday decorations.

    8. Stay hydrated!

    As the weather gets cooler, don’t forget to drink water throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 9 cups daily for women and 13 cups daily for men. Here are some ideas to hydrate throughout the day: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits – they naturally contain lots of water; add lemon slices, fresh raspberries or cucumbers to ice water; and try decaffeinated coffee or tea to help hydrate.

    Author: Kristen Ciuba
    Kristen is a Nutritionist at Diet-to-Go, based in Lorton, VA. She tries to “practice what she preaches” by fitting in healthy foods and cooking, challenging exercise, and quality time with family and friends every day!  


    Surviving the Holidays
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