How to indulge without overdoing it
Strategies for not allowing holiday weight gain to extend into the New Year
By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente
‘Tis the season of cookies, potlucks, festive cocktails and other indulgences, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make good choices without forfeiting all the fun.
The average American puts on about one pound during the holiday season. It might sound like no big deal, but what if you put that pound on year after year without ever losing it?
“It creeps up on all of us — while a pound or two doesn’t seem like much, after 15 years, that’s a lot for some people,” said Dr. Patricia Dietzgen, Family Medicine Physician at Kaiser Permanente’s Frisco Medical Offices. “Have a game plan for working off those extra calories. Don’t wait until the New Year. Start a good regiment now and keep up with it. You can indulge in those cheat days but treat yourself with a workout the following day. Your body, and weight in May, will thank you.”
Strategies for balance
While this topic is front and center every holiday season, finding the right balance between healthy choices and indulgences is important any time of year. There’s always going to be a candy jar around the corner, a friend inviting you to a dinner out, or a long day on the ski slopes for which you feel like you’ve earned those extra calories. And during the holidays, the potlucks, parties and family gatherings are pretty much guaranteed.
“I suggest deciding — before you go to the ugly sweater party or office gathering —you choose what your treat will be: cookies, cake, an adult beverage. Whatever it is, enjoy it. Give yourself permission to enjoy it. Savor it. Take smaller sips or bites. Chew fully and look at what you’re eating before downing it,” Dietzgen said. “Having a glass of water before you eat or drink your beverage of choice will help your stomach feel more full, too — more often than not, when you feel hungry you’re more likely just thirsty.”
Eat before you go
One way to prevent overindulging at the holiday party is to eat before you go. Dietzgen said this could also add to your financial well being if the party is being held at an expensive venue or restaurant.
“You can still partake in the festivities and fun, but if you go with a full stomach you’ll be less likely to overindulge,” she said. “Enjoy whatever it is you indulge in. Take smaller bites or sips. Savor every bit of what you’re eating or drinking. This advice extends well beyond the holidays, too.”
Watch your alcohol intake
Holidays are synonymous with festive caloric drinks such as spiked cider, eggnog and celebratory wine and Champagne. Because alcohol lowers inhibitions, it can also stand in the way of your willpower to avoid eating too much or having a second piece of cake.
Try drinking a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage, Dietzgen said. This will help you drink less alcohol, as you’ll be moderating with water. For mixed drinks, try choosing club soda rather than sugary mixers.
Make it up with exercise
Healthy eating and exercise combined are the two best ways to maintain weight. If you have indulged a little too much this holiday season and need to lose a few pounds, Dietzgen recommends adding a little more time to your workouts or making other changes such as switching from sugary soda to sparkling water.
“This isn’t groundbreaking or mind-blowing stuff here. We get it — a healthy diet with exercise is a great way to get or stay healthy,” Dietzgen said. “But we’re all human and not all of us practice this, especially during this time of year. Should you indulge, do so consciously and with deliberate intent.”
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