Avoid the Holiday Bulge (Part I)

It’s holiday time and there’s a reason that “eat, drink and be merry” is the saying of the season. Sweet treats at the office and loaded buffet tables at parties provide too many temptations. It’s hard to stay on track and eat healthily during the holiday season.

Studies have shown that most Americans will gain one to three pounds during the holiday season, and some will gain even more. A few pounds doesn’t seem so bad – but it can be. According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the holidays.  

Nicole Treanor, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Homestead Hospital, agrees. “For most people, weight gain happens slowly over a period of years, and the holidays can set the wheels in motion,” she said.

If you gain two pounds this holiday season, two pounds during the year and two additional pounds next holiday season – you’ll find yourself six pounds heavier by next New Year’s Day. And everyone knows that most people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

Losing weight is difficult. A safe weight-loss goal is to lose one to two pounds per week. Keep in mind – one pound is 3,500 calories. To lose one pound a week, Ms. Treanor says, you need to burn an additional 500 calories per day. Another method is to split the calories between food and exercise and eat 250 less each day and burn 250 more.  

She suggests  these substitutions to lighten your holiday recipes:

  • Try low-fat cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, half-and-half, milk-based soups and whipped topping.
  • Buy reduced-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise. 
  • Use skim milk, egg whites and egg substitute.
  • Buy whole-wheat bread, pasta and flour. 
  • Serve brown rice, wild rice, bulgur or pearl barley.
  • Cook with herbs, spices, citrus juices, rice vinegar or salt-free seasoning mixes instead of salt.
  • Substitute rolled oats or crushed bran cereal for bread crumbs.
  • Reduce sugar by one half in most baked goods and intensify sweetness by adding vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon.
  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce or prune puree for half of the butter, shortening or oil in baked goods.

It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without gaining weight. “The best way to survive the season is to eat in moderation and maintain a consistent exercise program”, says Ms. Treanor.

To learn more tips to help you avoid the holiday bulge visit Health, Life & Community  Part II of the series.



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