Published on November 26, 2019

How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

While the holidays are a special time for fun family gatherings, they are often surrounded by food, which can result in weight gain. According to Registered Dietitians Jessica Perkins, R.D., and Jeff Ritzema, R.D., the good news is that there are a variety of simple ways to stay healthy and active during the upcoming holidays.

“The number one tip for making sure you don’t gain weight over the holidays is to be aware of how much you’re eating and why you’re eating,” said Perkins. “Often times we eat out of boredom or depression, rather than actually being hungry. Allow yourself some special treats during the holidays. If holiday cookies are a real temptation for you, allow yourself one a day to avoid depriving yourself and then overeating. It’s very important to manage our stress and emotions, especially during the holidays. Exercise is one way to help manage these feelings.”

Perkins also recommends that if you’re sad or depressed, to turn to friends and family members for comfort, not food. “You may also need to lower your expectations about the holidays,” she added. “This means focusing on having fun rather than having the best decorated home, trying to find the perfect gift, or baking 20 dozen cookies.”

A key to managing food intake is learning to control what we’re eating. “Choose healthier options when filling up your plate,” said Ritzema. “This might involve bringing a healthy dish to pass, such as a salad or fresh fruit. Also, don’t stuff yourself. If you feel content with the first plate of food, don’t go back for seconds. Choose foods that are truly special to you this time of year, versus the foods you can have anytime. Don’t just eat to eat.”

Ritzema also suggests getting out of the kitchen after the meal is over, so that leftovers are out of sight and you are not constantly surrounded by food. “If you do slip up and overeat, don't give up on the rest of the season,” he added. “Think about why it happened and know you can make a different choice the next time you're hungry. If you don't exercise for a week, tell yourself you will exercise next week and do it. If you do eat one too many pieces of pie, pass on that next holiday cookie and grab a lower calorie option instead.”

Those who would like information about weight management options available through MidMichigan Health, may visit www.midmichigan.org/weightloss.

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