Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Eat wisely to avoid weight gain

December 16, 2004

The holiday season comes around each year, as do the homemade treats, favorite desserts, festive dinners and social gatherings. It is a traditional time of indulgence.

Along with the temptation and indulgence of extra calories comes the decrease in burning those calories. The cold, wet weather makes it tougher for outside exercise and work. Hectic schedules take over finding time to head to the gym or jump on the treadmill at home.

The following is a short guide on how to make it through the holiday season a little healthier without that extra pound or two or three :

¢ Do not try to "diet." Set a goal of trying to maintain your present weight. Portion size is the key! Get the flavor and enjoyment out of a few of your favorite things without loading up on huge portions. Go more for variety. Savor the tastes and eat slowly. Ask yourself if each piece of food or drink is worth it. If you find yourself eating out often because of busy schedules, chose salads, grilled chicken, and again watch the portions. Hold the mayo and choose fat-free or light salad dressings.

¢ Do not go to parties on an empty stomach. Eat a little protein or salad beforehand so you are not famished and overdo it. Drink a large glass of water before heading out. Pay attention to the forgotten calories in drinks. Soda, eggnog and alcohol are loaded with calories. Stick with a light or diet drink and limit the quantity. Make decisions before you go to an event or go to work for the day on what and when you will eat and drink. Work tends to provide constant grazing during the holiday season. Make a pact at work that you will have treats out at specific times and limit the quantities.

¢ If you are doing the holiday hosting, think about having some healthy food choices. The more color on the table, the better! Foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, citrus fruits, cranberries and nuts (pecans, almonds and walnuts) add great variety, nutrition and even flavor.

¢ There is another side to the calorie equation: those calories can be burned! Focus on staying active. Many people have a New Year's resolution to start an exercise program. Start now! Not only will exercise help with guarding against added pounds, it will be a great tool to help manage the stress of the season. Burn calories by brisk walking while out shopping. Park in the farthest parking spots from the mall and grocery store. If traveling, avoid the automatic walkways and walk the airport. Take the stairs at work. Engage in holiday decorating. Rake the leaves or shovel the walk. Walk with your family to see light displays rather than drive. Take your dog for a walk.

The holiday season can be a great time of celebration and fellowship. Follow the simple guidelines above to come into the new year, maybe even a step in front of those New Year's resolutions. Happy Holidays!

Lisa Madsen is an M.D. with Associates in Family Healthcare, 712 First Terrace, Lansing.

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