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Handling the holidays

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Briana Traut, Registered Dietitian

CentraCare Weight Management

I love the holidays because it is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for overeating and unintended weight gain. Holiday gatherings with family, friends and coworkers often fill our calendars and revolve primarily around food. The average person gains 1-2 pounds during the holidays and over a lifetime. But, the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity and fun when celebrating this holiday season!

Change behavior

  • Engage in conversation to slow the pace of eating.
  • Excuse yourself from the dinner table once you’ve had enough to eat.
  • Chew gum to reduce the desire to nibble.

Be a food snob

  • If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
  • Scan the buffet for foods you really enjoy and skip the everyday dishes.
  • Don’t feel obligated to be part of the clean plate club — when you feel full, stop eating.

Calories in beverages

  • Eggnog (1 cup) = 391 calories
  • Champagne punch (1 cup) = 146 calories
  • Hot cocoa (12 oz.) = 320 calories
  • Peppermint mocha (16 oz.) = 470 calories
  • Spiced apple cider (1 cup) = 117 calories

Lighten up beverages

  • Cut serving sizes. Pour your beverage into a champagne flute instead of a regular glass or serve hot beverages in a shot glass for a fun display and to save on calories.
  • Hydrate with water. Sip on water between alcoholic beverages or try sparkling water and add fruit for a burst of flavor.
  • Nix the alcohol and extras. Ordering your favorite drink virgin can save you up to 100 calories. See the sidebar to view the number of calories in some common holiday drinks. Also, skip the whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles and candy canes that are used as garnishes.

Don’t skip meals

  • Eat normally on the day of a party — people who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat.
  • Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off your appetite.
  • Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw veggies or some protein to curb your appetite.

Take the focus off food

  • Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, gingerbread houses or holiday decorations.
  • Plan group activities with family and friends such as serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going ice skating.