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Tips to control your weight during Holiday Season

It is the holiday season. With all the parties and merry going, how can you resist the temptation to over-indulge and keep within your weight control program? The following tips from USDA dietitians can help you navigate the caloric minefield.

  • Slow down! It takes 20 minutes for your brain to send the signal that you've had enough to eat. This also means that, you may not need a second helping most of the time. Your brain hasn't got the message that you had enough yet due to the 20 minute lag time in communications!
  • Check out the buffet table and decide what you really want to sample. Allow yourself to eat a little of your three or four favorite dishes. Again, easy on the second helping!
  • Don't stand near the buffet table while socializing. You're likely to nibble on extra food without even realizing it.
  • Know when to skip a party. If you overate at a party the night before, you might want to bow out of the next day's gathering to help get your eating patterns back under control.
  • Don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach. It lowers your inhibitions and can set up your body to crave more food. And remember, alcohol is a high-calorie substance, too. So try to alternate between drinking alcohol and water. You'll cut the calories you're drinking in half.

Even if it's traditionally a time of struggle for you diet-wise, try not to think of the holiday season only in terms of don'ts. (It may make you feel depressed and then eat to compensate!) Concentrate instead on following these nutritional guidelines from the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

  • Eat a low-fat diet with adequate protein.
  • Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day (that's a lot, but try!).
  • Eat plenty of roughage — good sources are whole grains and high-fiber cereals.
  • Go easy on salt.
  • Try to consume 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily from low-fat foods and/or take a calcium supplement.
  • Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement with roughly 100 percent of the daily value for most nutrients, including vitamin D, E, and folic acid.

Another essential component for a successful management of your weight during the holiday season is exercise. Technically, if you burn the calories you consume, you cannot pick up any weight. However, this gets tougher as you get older. Your metabolism slow down over time and burn fewer calories. So, older people needs more exercise than their younger counterparts — so don't quit exercising during the holidays. You need it more at this time than at any other time. Exercise burns calories and also lessens stress, which commonly leads to overeating.

Don't be too harsh on yourself in case you overindulge in the spirit of the season. Formulate a solid strategy on how you're going to eat during the holidays, and if you do overeat, don't be so disappointed with yourself that you give up your positive eating habits. One day of overindulgence won't ruin your health or body permanently. Even if you make some mistakes during the holidays and pick up a few pounds don't despair; you have plenty of time to lose the extra weight and you'll have one resolution ready to go on New Year's Eve, like millions of others: lose those pounds!

Source: USDA

Adapted by Editorial Staff, December, 2005
Last update, August 2008


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