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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

12/14/12 - Keep the Ho-Ho-Holiday Weight Away!

The clock is ticking and another year has flown by, and ready or not Christmas cheer is here! Christmas carols, decorating our homes, and those delicious Christmas cookies; these are things that make the season bright. I don't know about anyone else, but our home is a little more "homey" when it's all a-glow with twinkly lights and filled with the aroma of fresh baked goodies. And while this is the season to be jolly, for many of us it's also the season of busy schedules, crowded stores, and yes, unhealthy eating habits. These habits, along with less time spent being active, leads to added pounds to worry about when the New Year rolls in.

The average American gains about 1 pound during the holiday season. Some people are likely to gain even more weight, including those who are less active, stay hungrier, or are already overweight or obese. Most individuals never lose that holiday weight gain, so the pounds accumulate and may become a major contributor to obesity later in life.

A busy schedule is no excuse to stop being physically active or to overeat. Enjoy some of your favorite foods, but balance them with regular physical activity and practice portion control and moderation. You have to burn the same amount of calories you consume. This is known as "energy balance". If you consume 3,500 more calories than your body burns, you will gain 1 pound of weight.

With a series of feasts and celebrations just around the corner, now is the time to challenge yourself to maintain your weight during the holiday season.

Healthy Holiday Eating

  • Realize that you might eat more than usual so make regular meals and snack as healthy as possible. Eating on the run can be a calorie buster. Make sure your snacks are as healthy and low calorie as possible.
  • Plan in daily physical activity to balance the extra holiday food - 30 minutes of walking, aerobic exercise, hiking, tennis or other fun activity can head off the extra pounds
  • Watch serving sizes. If you can't pass up the dessert, split a serving with a friend. Actually measure a half cup serving and a fourth cup serving on a small plate so you remember how big a serving really is
  • Drink lots of water instead of sweet or high calorie drinks. Add a lemon slice if you need a little flavor.

Healthy Holiday Meals and Parties

  • Plan your parties with low calorie options like raw vegetables, low calorie drinks,
  • Remember alcohol is high in calories that can add up fast. Holiday alcohol punches are particularly high in calories
  • Try raw almonds instead oily roasted nuts.
  • Limit calorie packed foods like cheese, luncheon meats, fried or deep fried foods, chips, pastries, and
  • Serve cooked vegetables without butter or heavy, high calorie cream sauces, try herbs and spices instead.

Quick and Healthy Foods

  • Drink fruit juice instead of soda or coffee in the car. You can keep 8- to 12-ounce cans or bottles in your refrigerator, chilled and ready to go! Or you can buy them at gas stations and fast food chains. Bring with you fruits and vegetables that are in the can or can be eaten by hand. Try these convenience foods - apricots, grapes, apples, nectarines, bananas,orange segments, broccoli, pears, carrots, plums, celery stalks, strawberries, cherries.
  • Take advantage of easy options such as precut, cleaned, and packaged fresh fruit and vegetables. Frozen, diced, or canned fruits and vegetables are also easy to use .
  • Buy non-fat vanilla yogurt, fruit juice, and fresh, canned, or frozen fruit to blend a quick smoothie in the morning. Drink it at home - or pour it into an insulated cup to keep it cold and take it with you.
  • Buy pre-cut vegetables (packaged or from the salad bar) for brown bag lunches and try dipping in low-fat salad dressing.
  • Buy frozen bags of berries, peaches, or melon balls and use as needed.

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