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Volume 8, No. 6     December 13, 2012
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The holidays are here again and it’s a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends. The holiday season, however, is also associated with another not so happy – or healthy- tradition: overeating and its potential for weight gain. So now is the time to prepare to prevent the holiday weight creep! Between Halloween and New Year’s Day, we are barraged with many delectable food temptations. Besides the temptation to overeat, colder weather can deter people from their regular physical activity routines. To eat healthy and stay active over the holiday season, here are some tips to try:
  • Set a “dessert limit”
    1. Research has shown that the most intense taste sensations are experienced within the first few bites of eating. Beyond that point, there is really no need to finish a large dessert. Choose a dessert that you really enjoy and savor a small portion of it slowly.
    2. Holidays are times to enjoy many different varieties of desserts. Set a limit of two small desserts at a holiday celebration.

  • Manage your dinner buffet choices
    1. Survey a dinner buffet prior to eating and fill your plate with foods your really enjoy. Add color to your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    2. After you have served yourself a reasonable amount of food, leave the buffet table area. This will remove you from easy food access and mindless nibbling.

  • Be aware of your beverages
    1. Limit yourself to only one or two alcohol drinks at a party. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and lead to overeating. Regular sugar-sweetened beverages are filled with sugar and calories. Drink a glass of water prior to eating a meal, which may help you eat less during the meal.

  • Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed
    1. Start meals with a large vegetable salad and/or broth based soup. Choose lower-calorie salad dressings and ask for salad dressings served on the side.
    2. Vegetables and fruit are low in calories and high in water and fiber, which can help provide satiation.

  • Focus on family and friends instead of food
    1. Take the time to celebrate with family and friends while playing games, doing crafts and other fun filled activities. Create memories with the people in your lives, not the food you partake of.

  • Prepare for physical activity events
    1. Having an exercise plan and goal to complete an event during the spring can help you with your motivation to keep active during the colder months. Register for a 5 or 10 K fun run or a triathlon. Fall and winter are also great times to improve your fitness. For example, attend indoor fitness classes or start swimming to stay active over the long winter months. Another option – and one of the best cardiovascular workouts available - is cross country skiing for those who live in snowy areas.

  • Be realistic
    1. Weight maintenance is a good goal to have during the holiday season. Striving to lose weight during this time may create unnecessary frustration.
Try incorporating some of these ideas to help avoid holiday weight gain and stay healthy. Being fit for duty, through healthy eating and regular physical activity, is a responsibility of each USPHS Commissioned Corps officer. Enjoy the holidays and be healthy! For more information about healthy eating during the holiday season, contact a Registered Dietitian or go to the website of the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org .