Indulge during the holidays, and still keep the weight off
Thanksgiving turkey, Grandma's homemade pumpkin pie, warm butter cookies and nifty cocktails. The holidays are upon us, and that means lots of eating — and for some, significant weight gain.
Most people can expect to put on one or two pounds during the holiday season, according to Felicia Stoler, registered dietician, nutritionist and exercise physiologist. That's better than the four or five they might expect — but the problem is that those two stubborn pounds can stick around for months following the festivities.
Stoler said that's because the challenge, especially in the New Jersey area, is that it's very cold out. People are not necessarily going outside and being as physically active as they are in the summer.
She also said it's not just the over-consumption of food calories that packs on the pounds. Slcohol definitely adds to weight gain.
Stoler said the word "DIET" to her, means, "Did I Eat That?" That's what most people say when they go to a big holiday dinner or party and gorge. But she said not to fret. There are ways to still enjoy all the wonderful foods during the holidays without gaining a ton of weight.
First, Stoler said, if you know you're going to a party or a holiday dinner, "don't starve yourself all day and eat one oversized meal. You're better off having small meals earlier in the day." She added it's also best to have snacks packed with nutrition before you go out.
Drink water between alcoholic beverages so you stay hydrated, Stoler said. When we're dehydrated, we fee like we're hungry, so we eat. But the reality is, we actually need to drink more water, which will help us to stay fuller.
But, Stoler said, "don't deprive yourself of anything. Have small bites and try small portions and quantities of those foods that you want to eat."
But let's say you blew it. You gorged at the holidays. Now what can you do to feel physically and emotionally better?
Stoler said the first rule of thumb is that the next day, you wake up and start over. Make a strategy for yourself to make better food choices. Don't beat yourself up. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Go lighter in the calorie department to balance out what you ate or drank the night before. Drink a ton of water and exercise. It will help you feel better — and besides, a healthy diet all by itself won't just keep the pounds off.
It's also important to note that it's not just food and alcoholic beverages that can lead to weight gain during the holidays. Stoler said a lot of people feel isolated or have stress around their family. This creates opportunities to stress-eat, especially around the holidays.
Stoler's last bit of advice: "Practice gratitude." Always be thankful every day for the things you have in your life, she said.
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