The holidays are a time when family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company — and eat! Indulgent meals, bountiful buffets, cookie swaps, holiday parties… it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy weight can present even more challenges during the holidays than throughout the rest of the year. Each year, on average, we tend to gain a small amount of weight and most of that weight is gained over the holiday season.
Give yourself the gift of health this holiday season by following these tips from Dr. Paula Newmark who leads the Lifestyle weight loss program here at The Medical Group of South Florida.
Satisfy Your Cravings
There is a saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” which means that you can’t have everything. This applies to the holidays as well. One of the most exciting things we have learned in the last few decades of nutrition science research is that the human body is incredibly robust, and a healthy approach to eating can be achieved through a wide range of methods.
We have also learned that you can eat most of the foods you enjoy, as long as you control the amount and don’t overeat. This means that you can indulge in some of your favorite foods during the holidays, but that you will need to control the portion sizes of those foods, and you probably can’t have everything that you want at each meal.
If you enjoy the prime rib at Christmas dinner, eat a little extra prime rib. If the pumpkin pie is more your style then have an extra slice of pumpkin pie. If you just crave the sweet potato casserole, then get a second serving of the sweet potato casserole.
If the cheese plate appetizer is the thing you look forward to all year, then function as your fromagerie this year. If you can’t choose a favorite, enjoy all of these things in smaller portion sizes.
Think About Your Drinks
Even slight dehydration can cause headaches, reduce energy, and affect mood—not exactly a recipe for holiday cheer. To stay at your peak, consider carrying a water bottle during these busy days so you can hydrate early and often. Bear in mind that what you chug matters.
While sugary beverages like soda and fruit punch technically count toward your daily water goals, they still contribute calories from added sugar to your day and can add up quickly. Same for alcoholic beverages, they are not only high in calories but also increase appetite and decrease eating restraint, so they are a triple threat when it comes to maintaining your weight over the holidays. You don’t need to restrict alcohol completely, just make sure to skip the high-sugar mixed drinks (opt for club and lime as a mixer instead) and alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of sparkling water, Dr. Paula Newmark suggests.
More straightforward drinks that include fewer ingredients are often lower-calorie drink options. Sticking to things like a gin and tonic, vodka and soda, a light beer, or some variation of drinks like these can reduce the calories you consume from drinking at social gatherings. As such, being mindful of alcohol intake and limiting it can make a significant impact on your total caloric consumption.
Exercise is even more important for maintaining weight loss than for taking off the pounds in the first place, according to Dr. Paula Newmark. And experts agree that exercise is essential in helping you cope with stress. Further, getting regular activity can actually give you more energy to tackle that long holiday “to-do” list. If you just can’t get to the gym, keep in mind that something is better than nothing. Do whatever you can to squeeze in 10-minute intervals of activity throughout the day.
Your best intentions to forgo just one more holiday cookie quickly fall to the wayside; yet, the bathroom scale can’t be ignored for long. Regular exercise is fundamental to maintaining a healthy weight, but motivation can be lacking when holiday indulgences beckon. The key is to choose and incorporate fun aerobic activities into our holiday plans, such as a family walk, ice skating, or a friendly football game. If you prefer to stay inside, there are plenty of indoor physical activities options, including exercising using cardiovascular equipment, exercise-based video games or DVDs.
Don’t skip workouts, and be active whenever possible to burn off those holiday indulgences before they start to accumulate around your midsection. Take the stairs at the mall, park farther away at the grocery store, do pushups and jumping jacks while watching TV, and plan active outings for your family.
Join the Lifestyle Modification program
With the Lifestyle Modification program, our team of physicians and registered dietitians are committed to helping you achieve and maintain weight loss. We help you reshape your lifestyle by adopting healthy new habits and breaking the unhealthy old ones. If you are interested in this program, please call 561-622-6111 Ext 1114 or email [email protected] to request a consultation.
We also advise you to speak with your healthcare provider about any weight concerns. All of our providers have their own approach to healthy weight loss and it is best to get their advice first. There could be other underlying issues that are causing your weight gain and they can put you on the right path for your individual needs.
Please take advantage of our online booking services and schedule your appointment to check in on your health! If you have not done so already, book your annual wellness visit for the new year. Start the year with a clean bill of health.