Enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers without gaining extra pounds
The holiday season is a time for family get-togethers, parties and food. Baked goods, candy, large meals and cocktails are plentiful this time of year, making it even more important for people to stay on track with their healthful eating goals.
Contrary to the popular notion that Americans gain five to 10 pounds during Thanksgiving and Christmas, recent studies have pegged the actual holiday weight gain at one to two pounds. But that tends to be weight that is hard to lose and accumulates over the years.
Following a few simple strategies makes it possible to enjoy all those holiday goodies without putting on those extra pounds. Here are a few holiday weight management tips from the American Dietetic Association:
• Don’t skip. Missing meals often results in overeating. It is especially important to eat breakfast. Research indicates that people who eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day.
• Fiber up. Include lots of fiber in your diet from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These high-fiber choices are relatively low-calorie foods that make us feel full.
• Go easy at the buffet. Portion control is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. It limits calorie intake, while allowing us to sample a wide variety of foods — even dessert.
• Use a smaller plate. “Small plate” servings are all the rage in some restaurants, and a wonderful way to eat reasonably at home. Using a smaller plate, of course, allows you to load up with less food and helps maintain portion control.
• Eat ahead. Eating a healthful snack or small meal before attending an event or party helps prevent over-indulgence later on. If you are invited to a holiday gathering, bring a reduced-calorie food option that you and others can enjoy guilt-free.
• Veggies first. A good food-serving strategy is to fill your plate first with salad and vegetables, leaving less room for entrees and desserts. Research has shown that people who begin their meals with a salad consume fewer calories overall.
• Take your time. Eating slowly, chewing your food and savoring every morsel makes for a more satisfying experience that tends to reduce the desire to overeat. Also, wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds. Your hunger might just go away.
• Get some exercise. Don’t forget to make room for regular physical activity in your holiday schedule. You don’t necessarily have to beat yourself up in the gym. The holidays are a great time to take a walk with family members or play with the kids.
Remember, there are no bad foods. “Everything in moderation” is a good rule to follow during this festive time. Trying to deprive ourselves of all the treats that surround us tends to make us crave them even more.
Mandy Johnson, RD, LD, is a dietitian at OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital.