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Tips for Surviving The Holiday Gain Game

Posted on: 19 Dec 01


Maybe there’s a reason why the symbol for the indulgent season – that period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – is a jolly, large man in a red suit. As sure as Santa and his sleigh, extra poun
Maybe there’s a reason why the symbol for the indulgent season – that period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – is a jolly, large man in a red suit. As sure as Santa and his sleigh, extra pounds come around every holiday season. “Planning to prevent unwanted weight gain is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season,” said Carolyn O’Neil, registered dietitian and former CNN journalist who has reported on food and nutrition for over 20 years. According to a National Institutes of Health study, the weight people gain during the holiday season adds up year after year and may be a major contributor to heart disease, diabetes and obesity later in life. The further bad news: 61 percent of Americans are presently overweight and 22 percent are considered obese - cumulative holiday weight gain may be particularly problematic for this segment of the population as they are unlikely to lose the pounds they gain during the holiday season, which add up after five, ten or twenty indulgent holiday seasons. And, admit it, sticking to a healthy diet amidst all the yuletide celebrating can be a challenge, but it is possible. “Navigating holiday taste temptations and implementing simple steps into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the escalator while gift shopping, will help you stay on top of the holiday gain game and on the path to a healthy New Year.” The key to maintaining your weight is to start each day with a healthy breakfast – select foods high in fibre and rich in nutrients like oatmeal and orange juice. “People who eat breakfast, especially cereal, are better able to maintain a healthy weight,” said O’Neil. “Breakfast skippers are heavier.” O’Neil added that one of oatmeal’s many health benefits is satiety. “It makes you feel full longer.” Also, research shows that soluble fibre slows the absorption of carbohydrates to help provide your body with a constant flow of energy, while orange juice is an excellent source of essential nutrients that your body needs for optimum health to get you through the holiday hustle bustle. O’Neil offers up more tips for enduring the annual high-risk, indulgent season.
  • Start each day with a strategy. More than any other time of the year, planning is paramount during the holiday season to avoid weight gain year after year. You will need a course of action – food choices that give you energy to survive the holiday hustle bustle and ward off hunger pangs that may cause overeating.
  • Bone up on calcium. Research shows that calcium may actually curb weight gain. The study found that a higher calcium intake can reduce overall levels of body fat and slow weight gain. A great way to sneak more calcium into your diet is a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice, which provides a more absorbable type of calcium than other calcium supplements.
  • Don’t run on empty. Don't go to a holiday party hungry and don't "save your appetite" for a big end-of-the day holiday meal. Fill up on fibre before the party and you will be less tempted to overindulge during the party. Try high fibre foods that can actually help you manage your weight like fresh vegetables, light popcorn, apples and oranges. High-fibre foods have been found to be more satisfying than low-fibre foods.
  • Stay active. When you're going holiday shopping, park at the farthest end of the parking lot instead of circling for the closest spot. Carry those packages all the way back to the car. Get moving on the dance floor at holiday parties to burn extra calories consumed.
  • Remember portion control. Take small portions of a variety of foods and take time to savor the flavor. Even your favorite party foods and holiday desserts can be enjoyed in sensible portions.
  • Let go of the guilt. If you, well, have your cake and eat it too, be easy on yourself. Start over the next day – eat a little less and get some physical activity. Most importantly, enjoy the spirit of the season – being among family and friends – rather than just the food; and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy and happy New Year.

Alison Lanham

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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