December 5, 2008

Sweets and Treats Galore: Tips to Not Overeat this Holiday Season

By: Ana Goins-Ramirez-Diaz

The holidays are a time where we get together with our family and friends to celebrate the season with great food. Many delicious foods are available during the holidays. It is so easy to gain weight during this season because these tasty foods are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media reports have suggested that the average American gains between 5 to 7 pounds during the holidays. Don’t worry too much about these reports, though. The good news is, that in recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine researchers found that the average American only gains about 1 pound during this time of the year. The bad news is that this extra weight is not lost during the following months. If this happens year after year, those pounds can add up and lead to weight gain.

For this holiday season, follow these easy tips to stay healthy without packing on the pounds.

1. Enjoy some holiday foods, beverages and sweets in MODERATION!

It’s okay to eat some of your favorite holiday foods, but don’t over do it! You should eat slowly and listen to your body. It takes approximately 20 – 30 minutes for your mind to process that your stomach is full. Be sure to eat slowly to give your mind enough time to realize you are full before you end up eating too much.

2. Eat before having the main holiday meal

Try to have a quick bite to eat before going to your holiday party. If you fill up on a healthy snack like lightly buttered microwave popcorn or a small apple before you eat your holiday meal, you will eat less.

3. Focus on vegetables and fruits

Serve yourself larger portions of the healthier options on the buffet table. Try appetizers made with vegetables or fruits. Choose to eat desserts that are mostly made with fruit. Limit your portions of stuffing, dressing, bread rolls, eggnog, alcoholic beverages, and high-fat desserts. You also want to be careful with the high calorie vegetable side dishes such as sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

4. Start new holiday traditions that get your body moving

This is a great way to have your friends and family exercise together. You could set up a trip to the skating rink, stroll around your town to see the holiday decorations, have a snowball fight, etc. These activities are not only fun, but will also make you burn some calories.

5. Enjoy the company of your friends and family

If you focus on the food at the celebration, you may eat more. Spend time with your loved ones, not the foods on the buffet table!

Have a happy and healthy holiday!

Ana Goins-Ramirez-Diaz is a Health Educator with UCSD Nutrition Link, an elementary school nutrition education program. Nutrition Link is funded by USDA’s Food Stamp Program through the California Department of Public Health. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers.

Return to the Frontpage