Laura Crist, R.D., L.D.N
Happy Holidays from our family to yours. We hope you are enjoying gathering with friends, family and co-workers during this wonderful time of year that often brings so many people together. We routinely hear stories about crazy holiday weight gain, but the truth is the average person in the US only gains about one to two pounds over the holidays. However, most of us do not ever lose that weight and carry it around with us the rest of our lives. This often leads to the extra 15 – 20 lbs of weight that many middle aged Americans are struggling to lose. Here are healthy ideas to incorporate into your regimen during this tempting season.
1) Eat Breakfast - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides you with energy to jumpstart your body and mind each day. Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Hunger sets in long before it's time for lunch, but without healthful foods on hand, many people who have not eaten breakfast snack on foods that are typically high in fat and sugar. Incorporating breakfast into your daily routine doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some easy, tasty and scrumptious breakfast ideas: top a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, your favorite fruit and a dash of cinnamon; grab some yogurt and a whole grain granola bar; or try a glass of V8® Fruit and Vegetable Blend.
2) Keep Exercising – continue to prioritize your regular workouts especially during the busy holiday season. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. You don't need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap benefits. If you can't do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores. Get your whole family moving and go ice skating, build a snowman or do a holiday fun run or walk. Grab a friend or relative and walk and talk to reduce the stress sometimes associated with the holidays.
3) Get enough sleep - Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way your body processes and stores carbohydrates and by altering levels of hormones that affect your appetite. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
4) Mindful eating at holiday parties – Before you head out to a party, eat a healthy snack or light meal, this will make you less ravenous and savor each morsel you eat at the party. Enjoy plenty of holiday fruits and vegetables that are in season such as fresh citrus, pomegranates, holiday salads, butternut squash bisques and wassail, instead of extra cookies and candy. To ensure a healthier option at the party, you can always bring a platter of your own favorite healthy appetizer.
5) Make it a game or activity – Invite your family and friends to make more mindful eating choices with you and make it a little holiday competition while creating memories. Enjoy projects such as making wreaths, caroling or making homemade holiday cards. Planning your own holiday party? Change a few ingredients in your holiday treats to make them healthier, like substituting applesauce in place of oil, cutting down the sugar by half or using whole wheat flour in place of white.
Not sure what to give your friends and neighbors for the holidays? Why not create your own healthful gift basket with seasonal fruits, nuts, and whole grain breads. Consider hand delivering local cards and gifts to make them more personal and save a little money from postage. The more you involve others the more fun you will have and the healthier you and your family and friends will become.
Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!
1) A Prospective study of holiday weight gain. New England Journal of Medicine. 2000Mar 23;342(12):861-7
2) The Science Behind Breakfast. https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/why-you-should-eat-breakfast
3) 7 Benefits of Exercise http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676
4) The Importance of Sleep. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
5) How many hours of sleep are enough? http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487
Laura Crist, R.D., L.D.N.
Laura received her bachelor degree in dietetics from Brigham Young University and then completed a dietetic internship at University of Maryland. She also received her certificate in Adult weight management and training in 2007 while she was working as an outpatient dietitian for Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Laura has over seven years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, geriatrics, women's health and wellness and nutrition education. She is currently working as a nutrition consultant as she raises her three children at home.