Here we go...Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, New Year’s…let’s face it…the season of eating is upon us. Research shows that weight gained during the holiday season is often not lost and accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.
According to researchers at NIH, the biggest factors that influence weight gain are level of hunger and level of activity. Participants in a study at NIH who reported being less active and more hungry had the greatest holiday weight gain. So, the two most important tips to prevent holiday weight gain are:
1. Control your hunger and
2. Stay physically active
To control hunger, eat within the first hour after you wake up and try not to go longer than 3-5 hours without eating. This is challenging with busy schedules, but planning ahead makes all the difference. Include lean protein-rich foods, whole grains, and fruit and veggies with meals and snacks.
Plan to exercise most days of the week. Don’t let cold weather keep you from getting outside. Research shows that fresh air and exercise may help prevent and treat the winter blues as well as the more serious seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a clinical depression brought on by short days. And remember we “fall back” next weekend as daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 3, at 2 a.m.
Exercise is a great way to control holiday stress while burning calories, both of which will help to prevent weight gain. A gym membership may be the healthiest gift you could ask for this year and the benefits would last all year long. Or how about treating yourself to one or more sessions with a personal trainer who can tailor a workout just for you?
Also, other tips include:
· Use small plates which can actually help you eat less.
· Remember to enjoy rich holiday treats in moderation and realize that the first few bites are the most satisfying and learn to stop with a few bites. Savor each bite and you will be satisfied with less.
· Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and try sparkling water or club soda with a slice of lemon, lime or orange for holiday parties.
Western Maryland Health System has some programs that will help you stay on track, too:
Weight Management Support Group meets from 5-6 pm on Tuesdays, November 12th, November 26th and December 10th in Auditorium Room 3. Topics include Healthy Holiday Eating and A Plan of Attack for the Holidays. Call Carey Moffatt, Certified Health and Wellness Coach at 240-964-8418 for more information.
Demo and Dine meets Wednesday November 20th from 5-6:30 at WMHS and features Chef Pete Lippold will prepare a delicious meal for you to enjoy while Registered Dietitian Brenda Ridgway provides nutrition information and healthy recipes. Contact Brenda Ridgway, RD, LDN at 240-964-8912 to register. Registration is required and space limited to 20.
Change to Win is a nutrition and weight management program taught by Theresa Stahl, RD, LDN and a team of registered dietitians. The next Change to Win session starts January 7th or 8th and runs for 10 weeks. To register or for more information, call Theresa Stahl, RD, LDN at 240-964-8416 or email Theresa at email@example.com. With careful planning, you can prevent the usual holiday and winter weight gain. I’d love to hear your tips and what works well for you.
Theresa Stahl, RD, LDN – Outpatient Community Dietitian