By Lara Smith
TriWest Healthcare Alliance
PHOENIX — Temperatures are dropping, holidays are approaching, stress levels are rising and, for many of us, our weight starts increasing. In fact, the average American gains approximately two to five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Is it really a problem if a person gains one to two pounds during the holidays? According to Jackie Magyar, TriWest Healthcare Alliance registered dietician, it can be.
“Most weight put on during the holidays is not lost after the season,” Magyar said. “Year after year, those few pounds can add up, moving an otherwise healthy person into an overweight or obese state.” Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions including:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)
This holiday season make sure the one thing you aren’t adding to your plate is extra, unwanted pounds. Follow these easy steps:
1. Drink plenty of water. You hear about the value of drinking plenty of water every day; the holiday season is no different. Drinking water throughout the day and between meals will keep you feeling full and fully hydrated.
2. Decorate your plate, not just your house. Filling the majority of your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables is a great way to keep calories down. Avoid heavy sauces and creams. Round it all out with lean protein and you will feel full in no time.
3. Remember: good things come in small packages. When you watch your portion size, you can indulge in your favorite dishes and not feel deprived. This is especially true for the days you sit down for the big meals (see tip 6).
4. Go for quality, not quantity. Don’t waste your calorie budget on mindless snacking. Save up for the big ticket items like dinner and dessert — just be sure to watch your portion sizes. And leave some food on your plate at every meal. You’ll be glad the calories you left behind didn’t land on your own behind!
5. Try a food exchange. You exchange gifts, why not food? If you know you can’t make it through Thanksgiving without Aunt Erma’s famous sweet potato casserole, are you willing to exchange some time at the gym for it? If you indulged in too much eggnog, how about heading out for a jog before hitting the sack? Making time for exercise on days you’ve treated yourself can help combat the number of calories you have taken in.
6. Pace yourself on the big days and you can still indulge. Eat light earlier in the day (breakfast, lunch and a small snack) and do not skip meals. This will ensure you won’t be starving by dinner and risk eating too much. When you sit down for the holiday dinner, have a small portion of everything served. This way you won’t feel like you are missing out and can still enjoy all the great food being served.
7. Move it. Speaking of exercise … whether it’s speed walking through the mall, raking piles of leaves, or talking a family walk after dinner, make it your goal to move every day. Movement burns energy, which means you are burning calories. The decision to move a little every day could mean the difference between losing or maintaining your weight this holiday season.
8. Relax and enjoy! The holidays are supposed to be about connecting with family and friends, honoring time-held traditions and creating new ones. Take it easy and don’t take too much on your plate, including extra, unwanted pounds.
For more healthy eating tips, visit TriWest.com/HealthyLiving, or stop by the Peterson TRICARE service center in Building 959.