We have entered the period of the year when spreads of rich holiday foods seem to appear at every social gathering – frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor’s, or chocolates in your Christmas stocking. All these extras add up, and if you are like most Americans, you will put on a pound or two by New Year’s Day.
So what is the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it is just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institute of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
Realizing you do not have to fall into this trap is half of the equation. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. Portion control is the key. Of course, it is not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That is why I have compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging.
· Never arrive hungry. Planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. Do not go to a party when you are starving. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
· Divert your attention. Do not look at the party as just a food event. Enjoy your friends company or dancing. Focus on something other than food.
· Pace yourself. Have you ever tried telling yourself you’ll only eat during the first half hour of a party? This strategy is a huge mistake. If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew even faster than normal. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food. A recommendation I saw recently suggested putting your fork down between every bite. This puts you in control.
· Outsmart the buffet. When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and do not stack your food. Limit your helpings to a single story. Go for the simplest foods on the buffet; fresh fruits and vegetables are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips.
· Schedule time for exercise. Even though morning temperatures are chilly, John and I find that our biking to and from work provides us with some beneficial exercise. Look for opportunities throughout your day to fit in a walk or consider signing up for an exercise class.
Enjoy this special time of year but make sure you make healthy food choices as much as possible. You will be glad you did!
Donna Krug is the Family and Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Barton County. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or email@example.com.