Eating Through the Holidays

"The thing I'm most thankful for right now is an elastic waistband" - Author Unknown

Thanksgiving only comes around once a year (as does Christmas), so why not go ahead and splurge? We all know that gaining weight during the holiday season is a national pastime. Year after year most of us pack on at least a pound (some gain more) during the holidays - and keep the extra weight permanently.

However, the holidays do not have to be a time to sabotage your weight loss journey. The English words “to thank” derive from the same root as “to think.”  Planning, thinking, and preparing for these times will go far in helping you to be successful.

Try some or all of the following:
Get Active
Make fitness a family adventure. Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. It is a wonderful way for families to get some physical activity and enjoy the holiday together.

Eat Breakfast
While you might think it makes sense to save up calories for the big meal, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite. Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast - such as  a protein shake, an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a cup of yogurt and some fruit - so you won't be starving when it is time for the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.

Lighten Up
Whether you are hosting the holiday dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories.

Monitor Your Portions
Thanksgiving and Christmas tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. Before you fill your plate, survey the table and decide what you're going to choose. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

Slowly Savor
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness. With every food that crosses your path, remind yourself that you'll have plenty of chances later to eat. Forgo the "last supper" mentality. Honor your true feelings of hunger and fullness, and if you're not hungry or in the mood for a certain food, don't feel obligated to eat it. Be a (polite) food snob. Don't waste calories on a treat you don't really like or that isn't very delicious. If you accept a co-worker's cookie or Aunt Mary's bacon salad, but it's not very tasty, stop eating it. No one will fault you for saying you want to just have a taste.

Go Easy on Alcohol
Don't forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly. Have a glass of water or a wine spritzer in between alcoholic drinks, (or) enjoy sparkling water.

Be Realistic
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.

Focus on Family and Friends
Holidays are not just about the delicious bounty of food. It's a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.

Remember Your Goal
Before you eat a certain food or decide to sleep in instead of hitting the gym, remember your goals. It's going to take work to get there. Before you act, ask yourself, "Will this help me get to where I want to be?". If not, make another decision. Remember that YOU are in control during the holidays, not the other way around.

We, at Weight Management, are thankful for

each and every one of you!

Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.