The turkey. The ham. The mashed potatoes. The macaroni and cheese. THE COOKIES! These are all temptations that we normally try to resist, but the holidays are especially hard when the food is overflowing and holiday spirit fills the air. Many of us say, “It’s the holidays!” as we ignore our healthy eating habits and indulge until we can no longer move.
Did you know that the average American gains seven to 12 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year? Don’t let that be you this holiday season. I’m not saying you should be losing weight during the holidays, but it’s important to try and not gain any unhealthy weight. Extra weight makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which both make stroke or heart disease more likely. Being overweight can also lead to type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, breathing issues and more.
So how can you avoid putting on the extra pounds this holiday season? There are plenty of ways to make sure you are still eating healthy while enjoying the holiday food you know and love.
The biggest way to avoid gaining weight is to indulge in moderation. This is a good tip all year round and not just for the holidays. It’s perfectly okay for you to eat your favorite holiday pies, cakes, cookies, fudge or whatever. Consume these treats in smaller portions. You can also divide them into smaller portions, package them up and eat them throughout the week or coming weeks. Having a pre-portioned treat ready to go helps make sure you’re not eating more than you should.
Include a bunch of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables will add flavor and nutrients to your holiday meals. Many fruits are naturally sweet, so reach for those instead of calorie-dense desserts. When thinking about eating both fruits and vegetables, go for a lot of different colors. Eating a variety of colorful food provides vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish your body. It’s an easy way to ensure your body is getting what it needs. It’s good to have an array of healthy foods that can help you feel fuller longer so you won’t reach for the cake.
Swap and substitute healthy options for unhealthy foods and beverages. Do your research and learn where excess calories, sodium, sugars, and saturated fats are hiding in your food and drinks and swap those for healthier alternatives. You can swap butter for coconut oil, applesauce and even yogurt depending on the recipe. It’s an easy way to make your favorite treats a little lighter.
Lastly, make some time to be active. A good workout will keep you on track. If you can’t do a full workout, go for a walk before or after your meal or in between holiday parties. You can also be active by participating in some winter sports with friends and family. There are plenty of opportunities to sprinkle in some physical activity. Schedule some activities ahead of time to help you keep your word.
Do you need to talk to your doctor about staying healthy this holiday season, or do you or your child need a physician? Call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors to find one today.
Nydia Nunez-Estrada, M.D.
Eskenazi Health Urgent Care East