Holiday Fun Without Extra Pounds

Mia Inoshita
By Mia Inoshita
Friday - December 05, 2007

Enjoy moderate portions of your favorite treats during the holidays to avoid gaining weight
Enjoy moderate portions of your favorite treats during the holidays to avoid gaining weight

Holidays are about celebrating the season with friends and ohana. Here in Hawaii, food is an important part of the culture and goes hand-in-hand with any celebration.

However, when it comes to holiday-related eating, studies suggest that the average American gains anywhere from one to five pounds during the winter holiday season.

One pound may not seem like much, but typically the weight is not lost the next year. Thus, there is a small, cumulative weight gain that occurs over the years. This weight gain can contribute to becoming overweight and development of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes as we age.

It’s understandable that eating healthy isn’t always a priority when there’s great holiday food and drink around - especially in the season of celebration with friends and family! However, don’t be too quick to throw your good eating habits out the window because you may be surprised how simple it is to eat healthfully during the holidays. Even though we’ve past Thanksgiving, we’ve still got Christmas and New Year’s celebrations to go! Here are a few tips to consider before heading out to those festive dinner parties:

Don’t go famished

Eat something small and nutritious such as a piece of fruit or yogurt right before heading out.

Eat enough to satisfy you for at least 30 minutes. You’ll find that making healthier food choices on a not-so-empty stomach is much easier than when you’re ravenous.

Be smart about your food choices

Select a variety of healthful foods to get all the nutrients you need as you would do normally. Include whole grains, lean meats, low- or fat-free dairy, fruits and lots of vegetables. Don’t forget to enjoy moderate portions of your favorite yummies as well (cupcakes for me!).

Budget eat (for those not-so-healthy items)

If you feel that you’d rather eat certain foods rather than others, you can “budget eat” - make food choices that will satisfy you while leaving other items at the table. For example, if you know you’re not going to be able to resist Aunty Dale’s strawberry cupcakes, cut back the calories, sugar and fat in other places to budget for this item (i.e. no ranch dressing on your salad, water instead of a martini, and/or passing on that buttered dinner roll). The key is to choose things that you can painlessly forgo for something that you’d really like to eat and relish.

Portion control

This is difficult at buffet-type parties because there is a wealth of spectacular, got-to-try-it food around. Even if you take only a little bit of the best stuff, it’s common that your plate may still end up with a mound of food. Try serving yourself half the portion that you would normally eat, even if it’s only a very small amount to start. Try eating this first, resting for 10 to 15 minutes, and see if that was enough to satisfy you. Remember, the goal is to be satisfied, not stuffed!

Careful with beverages

Calories from beverages, especially alcohol, can really add up fast and provide you little to no nutrition. Opt for calorie-free beverages like iced tea or water instead of juice, beer or cocktails - this can save you a ton of calories!

Savor your food

Just as you take time to catch up with your family and friends, take the time to really taste, chew, and savor your food. You may find that you’re satisfied with eating less when you pay attention and focus on the taste.

Move more

Perhaps most importantly, as you go through the holidays, don’t forget to maintain, or better yet, increase your level of physical activity. The tips above will help you to eat healthfully and in moderation during the holiday season. But, if you’re like me, you will still eat more than you normally do. To balance off the excess calories, move more, whether it is an extra 15-30 minutes walking or just simply parking your car farther at the shopping center.

Don’t deny or gorge on great seasonal meals and treats. Simply choose to be smart about festive food consumption and enjoy the season.

Happy holiday eating!

Mia Inoshita is a dietitian for Meadow Gold Dairies Hawaii. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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