Fitness Facts: Nutrition during the holidays
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Health eating is not about going on a “diet,” it is about finding a balance in your own individual eating patterns.
When we think of the holidays, we often think of food and adding a few extra pounds. It does not have to be this way. Why not focus on balancing the calories you consume with the calories you burn to avoid weight gain this year?
I know temptation is all around, but there are some simple steps to help avoid the unnecessary weight gain.
Some simple suggestion by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
Enjoy your favorite comfort foods but find a lower calorie alternative. Use lower calorie ingredients or prepare meals differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with nonfat milk, less butter and light cream cheese and include vegetables, such as fresh spinach and tomatoes
Fruits and veggies – keep it simple! Most fruits and veggies are low calorie and will fill you up, but the way you prepare them can change that. Breading and frying and using high-fat creams or butter with vegetables and fruit will add extra calories. Try steaming vegetables and using spices and low fat sauces for flavor. And enjoy the natural sweetness of raw fruit.
Eat smaller food portions. When eating out, save some of your meal and take it home to make another meal, or split one meal between two people. At home, try putting only the amount you want to eat in a small bowl and don’t go back for more. People eat more when served larger portion sizes.
Drink water. Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This tip can help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda will save you around 200 or more calories, depending on the drink you choose. Give your water a little pizzazz by adding a wedge of lime or lemon. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do.
Eat breakfast every day. When you don’t eat breakfast, you are likely to make up for the calories you saved by eating more later in the day. Many people who maintain long-term weight loss eat breakfast daily.
Maintain your physical activity or get more active to burn those holiday calories.
- Set a goal with a friend or family member to help you be more accountable.
- Spend time with friends and family doing something active rather than eating.
- To maintain consistency, split your exercise routine when time does not allow for a full workout. Planning five, 10 or 15 minutes of exercise in the morning helps keep your muscles engaged and your routine intact.
- Opt for home workouts over the gym to save travel time. Play a DVD, dance to music or use resistance bands.
- At lunchtime, squeeze in a quick workout at the gym or go for a walk.
- On days off, schedule exercise as a priority first thing in the morning before the day gets hectic. Any kind of movement will do, including walking the dog (they need exercise, too).
The holidays provide the temptation to over-consume and under-exercise. Physical activity helps reduces stress and compensate for eating too much.
Balancing calories is the key. Attacking holiday foods with reckless abandon will have long-term consequences.
Conversely, trying to be “good” is a setup for failure. Feeling guilty for breaking a diet may dissuade us from returning to a healthy living plan after the holiday parties are over (EHE International, 2017).
Do not set yourself up for failure! Plan to live healthy, and be armed with knowledge before the holidays start and the pounds do, too!
For more information on how to balance calories see: