Keeping Weight Off During the Holidays

The holidays may not be the best time to start a weight loss program, but they are the perfect opportunity to work on maintaining your current weight.  Many Americans gain several pounds in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but you don’t have to be one of them if you follow a few simple strategies for keeping the weight off this holiday season.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol and non-diet sodas you consume.  Both are filled with empty calories and supply zero nutrients.  Instead of calorie-laden, non-nutritious beverages, choose water, 100% fruit juice, or low-fat milk.  Or, alternate between one glass of water and one glass of soda or alcoholic beverage – at least you’ll be cutting your calories in half!
  • When you travel away from home, pack healthy snacks that contain a mix of fiber and protein to keep you feeling satisfied for a long period of time.  Good snacks include fresh-cut fruit or veggies, string cheese and whole grain crackers, granola bars (try to choose ones with less than 10g of sugar), trail mix, and lightly salted nuts.
  • At a holiday dinner or party, fill your plate with only those foods you really enjoy, and don’t go back for seconds.
  • Skip toppings like gravy, cheese, and butter on mashed potatoes, vegetables, and turkey.
  • Send leftovers home with family, friends, or co-workers.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast so that you’re not starving – and likely to eat anything in sight – when it comes time to party.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day; take a walk before or after your meal or party at the very least.

When it comes to food choices:

  • White meat turkey has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat
  • Pumpkin pie has fewer calories (one slice contains around 300) and is generally lower in sugar than other pies.
  • Serve stuffing baked outside the turkey; stuffing baked inside the bird has double the calories!
  • Serve baked potatoes instead of candied sweet potatoes to save almost 100 calories.
  • Include at least one item at meals or parties that is very low in fat and calories, such as fruit salad or steamed green beans.

More tips can be found at the WellMASS website, including those contained in the article used as a source for this post:
A Prospective study of holiday weight gain. Yanovski, JA. New England Journal of Medicine. 2000, Issue 342, Edition 12, pp. 861-867.

If your current goal is weight maintenance, but your long-term goal is weight loss, then you may benefit from the upcoming WellMASS weight loss challenge.  Your agency’s Wellness Champion will have more details on this challenge in early January.

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