Healthy Tips to Help You Survive the Holidays

Holiday socks on a weight scale.

Here is some very scary food for thought…It only takes an additional 500 calories a day over your needs from Halloween until after the New Year to gain 6 pounds! Whether you are burning less calories because you are exercising less or eating more because of the holiday parties, your calorie intake could be more than your output which adds up to extra pounds.

Keep in mind that one pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. In a week, it is 500 hundred extra calories a day! It could be those extra holiday cookies your co-workers bring in, that slice of pecan pie or that extra serving of stuffing. It could mean the eggnog or the fast food you ate on the way to the mall for your holiday shopping. It could also be the appetizers at the holiday parties and the lack of time in the gym because you are just too busy.

Whatever the reasons are, it is always a good idea to remain mindful of what you are eating and how much exercise you might be missing. ‘Tis the season to be jolly but it shouldn’t have be the season of unhealthy eating behaviors or extra weight gain.

Here are some tips to help you survive the holidays while maintaining your healthy lifestyle

  • Exercise! Don’t neglect your time in the gym or with your Wii! Exercise will help you burn calories, relieve stress, and elevate your mood. Activities as simple as walking for 10 to 20 minutes a day can make all the difference in your attempts to maintain a healthy weight through this stressful time of year.
  • Don’t skip meals. If you are hungry you won’t make healthy choices. It is even harder when you are busy and on the run.
  • Don’t give up favorite foods or deprive yourself completely. Moderate consumption is the key. Sometimes just tasting a tempting dish is all you need to satisfy your craving. Remember it is a matter of quality…not quantity when you are looking for satisfaction.
  • If you know you will be attending a party, don’t starve yourself all day so you can eat more at night. You will be setting yourself up for overeating and usually feelings of failure.
  • Before you leave home, eat something light and drink a great deal of water the day of the party.
  • It is always a good idea to bring a healthy dish to your party. Veggie crudités with a low fat dip is always appreciated by your host and guests
  • Alcoholic beverages can really add the calories and impede your ability to burn fat when you are exercising so moderation is the key. Two glasses of wine (preferably red) for men and one for women. Spritzers will extend this by a few drinks.
  • If the holidays make you feel lonely or depressed don’t try and make yourself feel better with food. Listen to music, get a massage, manicure, pedicure, or facial. Men this goes for you too! And don’t forget the power of exercise. It really id a mood enhancer.
  • If you are going to shop ‘til you drop, please eat something healthy before you get to the mall. Food courts are never a good place to find healthy foods. Always bring a bottle of water with you too. One of the signs of dehydration is hunger. You might just need to re-hydrate yourself.
  • Watch your portion sizes at holiday meals. A portion of meat should be about the size of a woman’s palm. Stuffing and potato dishes should be about the size of your fist.. Try and cut back on second helpings at holiday meals as well. Eat slowly, eat veggies, salad, drink plenty of water and just enjoy the company at the table

Remember that the holidays are about family, friends and giving thanks. Enjoy them - as well as the food!

By Barbara Mintz MS, RD
Vice President of Healthy Living and Community Engagement