Holidays = Stress for Those With Weight Issues
Let’s face it: when most of us think of the holiday season, we think first and foremost of food. Who’s making the turkey and cookies? Should I bring a dessert? If you come from a big family, this can translate to a huge spread.
Spending the holidays with family and friends is one of the highlights of the season. But for millions of Americans struggling with their weight, the holidays can be an especially difficult time filled with delicious temptations.
If your diet and weight concerns have you worried the festivities are a continuation of “bikini season,” how can you mentally prepare so you don’t succumb to the temptations all around you?
Map it out in advance
More than likely, you know the holiday situation you’re walking into. You know what types of foods, desserts and drinks that may be offered. Reviewing information before the holiday party can help you make better choices.
“Always have a plan and be determined to stick with it!” recommends Meredith K. Young, a registered dietitian and research coordinator for the UHealth bariatric surgery program. “For example, plan to go through the line for one small plate of food and finish with a small plate of dessert during buffet type parties. For sit-down dinners, plan to serve yourself a small portion of protein and three sides. This way you get to try everything and not over do it.”
Manage stress in a healthier way
Stress can lead to many negative health effects, especially during the holidays. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 24 percent of all American adults, in a recent study, reported experiencing extreme stress over the previous 12 months. In fact, one in three adults said their stress increased during the last year, and it is reasonable to assume the holidays can enhance this stress.
Young advises that if you start to feel stressed, try taking a walk around the block instead of reaching for additional food or drink.
“I always encourage my patients to do something that helps, not hurts when feeling stressed,” she adds.
Control your portions
The Centers for Disease Control recommends portion control as a way to limit calorie intake. The same applies to your holiday get-togethers. When you see that spread, don’t grab everything that looks good. Start with a small sample of the foods you like. You might even try using a smaller plate, or saucer. This can be a great way to limit the amount of food you take, and not draw attention to yourself.
“Try to avoid grazing during the holidays,” explains Young. “While a bite of this and a bite of that doesn’t seem like much, it adds up in calories throughout the day. Sticking to a structured meal schedule while still enjoying tasty holiday food can help avoid putting on those extra pounds during the holidays!”
- Drink (or eat) more water. Water-rich foods like cantaloupe, avocado, soups (without cream), and greens can take the place of more calorie-dense foods, like cookies or cake.
- Chew slowly. It may sound too simple, but slowly chewing your food, or having a conversation with someone while you eat, can mean you wind up with less fuel in the tank.
- Skip the absolutes. It’s unreasonable to think you will never eat a dessert again.
- Watch those “hidden” calories in alcohol. With 150 calories in a 12-ounce beer, 125 in 5 ounces of wine, and 100 calories in the average shot of liquor, alcohol practically counts as dessert.
- Do not skip meals. While you may think you are “saving calories,” you may actually be causing yourself to consume more. Have a healthy breakfast and lunch before the big holiday dinner to avoid excessive overeating.
- Get some exercise after you eat. Invite the whole family for a 30-minute walk or a game of football after the meal. Exercise after eating has many benefits including digestion, providing an energy boost, improving mood, and helping you control your weight.
Finally, it is the holidays. It’s okay – and healthy – to relax a bit.
This is a time to be with loved ones, not for weighing yourself every two hours. If your aunt’s German chocolate cake is so irresistible you find yourself with a second helping, don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself when you slip, and know you can do even better next time.
If you would like more information about your weight loss options, visit the Bariatric Specialists website for information, or call 305-243-4400.