Let’s face it; we all have a love-hate relationship with holiday meals. We LOVE the seemingly endless deluge of indulgent foods but HATE the inevitable holiday weight gain.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, most Americans only gain between one and five pounds during the holidays. One to five pounds doesn’t sound that bad, until you factor in that the same study also showed that people did not lose that weight after the holiday season, and that weight can add up year after year after year; making the overindulgent holiday season a key factor in adult obesity.
So how do we beat the battle of the bulge? The American Heart Association suggests seven strategies:
1. Beware of heavy holiday beverages like eggnog, hot chocolate, apple cider and festive cocktails. Avoiding alcoholic beverages, whipped-cream toppings and added sugar will help reduce your total fat and caloric intake during the holidays.
2. Resist the urge to fill your plate with meat, dressings and casseroles. Try and stick to smaller portions of lean meat and just one spoonful of salty, buttery side dishes. Fill the rest of your plate with leafy greens or roasted or sautéed vegetables.
3. Pitch in to make your holiday party at work a little healthier. Offer to provide a vegetable platter, unsalted nuts, whole-grain crackers or a festive fruit salad and be prepared to resist the sugary sweet mainstays of the holiday season.
4. Start a new tradition of baking healthier versions of your family’s favorite holiday recipes. Substitute ingredients with those lower in fat, calories, sodium and sugar.
5. Embrace your inner child by getting outside and enjoying everything the season has to offer. Snowball fights and sledding are great ways to burn those extra calories.
6. Cure cabin fever with some heart-pumping exercises in your own home. Get moving with some lunges, stretches and crunches.
Ward off illness by washing your hands regular, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep.