By Karen Taylor
Employee Health Coach
Methodist Health System
Starting a diet during the holidays? Think again. Most dietitians agree that the season of giving is also the season of eating. Starting a quest to lose weight may be fraught with challenges. While gifting is great, the extra calories and fat grams found in many holiday foods result in the gift that keeps on giving.
Most people gain one to five pounds during the holiday season, which are hard to lose. In addition to temptations such as cookies, candy, and traditional favorites like dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce, many people are driven to eat to relieve the stress of the holiday season. When we’re stressed, we don’t make the best health choices.
Losing weight during the holidays is tough. Watching portion sizes is important, but saying no to the many opportunities for extra treats is the most effective as well as the most difficult strategy. Instead of trying to lose weight over the holidays, the best plan may be to maintain your current weight. Then you can kick your quest to lose weight into high gear with the start of the New Year.
Maintaining your weight during the holidays may sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but there are many factors working against you — extra treats in the break room, lots of parties with high-calorie foods, and more.
- Never skip meals. If you know you’re going to be eating a large dinner, plan a low-calorie breakfast, such as oatmeal with blueberries, and a light lunch, such as a broth-based soup and half a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
- Keep a food diary. Journaling what and when you eat is a great way to identify poor food choices. Then you can quickly adjust.
- Exercise. Some exercise is better than none. And more exercise is better than some. Personally, I enjoy the gym and attend a boot camp class on a regular basis. Here, we have gyms at Methodist Charlton and Methodist Dallas Medical Centers, and personal trainers are available to work with you one-on-one at reasonable rates.
- Watch portion sizes. They are critical to successfully maintaining your weight. Smaller servings can be just as satisfying while saving you lots of calories.
- Holidays are days, not weeks or months. Avoid the holi-week or holi-month cycle that causes many of us to lose control of our diets. Get back on track quickly!
- Choose wisely. Weigh your choices on the holiday buffet before making your selections. If you really want Aunt Betty’s holiday fruitcake, take a small piece and consider foregoing the nuts and cheeses and other high-caloric treats that you can enjoy throughout the year.
- Skip the seconds. Limit your meal or party dining to one plate.
- Eat slowly. We often eat so quickly, we don’t give our body time to send us that cue that we’re getting full. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
- Drink water. Many calorie-laden beverages dot the holiday landscape — eggnog, hot chocolate, holiday punch, gingerbread lattes, and more. What’s more, alcohol is full of calories. A wise alternative is one holiday beverage followed by water.
- Keep healthy snacks handy. Put them in your bag, purse, or car. Carry healthy alternatives such as granola bars, carrots, and apples so on-the-run fast-food choices won’t be tempting.
- Be the healthy holiday hero. Bring a healthy side or entrée to a holiday gathering so you’ll know there will be at least one nutritious, good-for-you item you can enjoy.
- Learn to say no. We’re often overwhelmed with commitments during the holidays. If we can prioritize things that matter most, then you will be well on your way to managing stress and avoiding stress eating.
As a health coach, my top priority is helping our employees stay as healthy as possible, including maintaining an ideal weight and making lifestyle changes that will improve their well-being. If you’re ready to give yourself and your career the gift of happy, healthy holidays, then it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
© Methodist Health System