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by Joanna Manero

The holiday season is quickly approaching.  For clients trying to maintain or even lose weight, the holidays are stressful.  They may feel anxiety about holiday parties, family gatherings, and feel like they will have to miss out on all of their favorite foods.  The American Heart Association has put out a Holiday Guide to Healthy Eating.  In this blog post, I will highlight some of the tips that I found most helpful.  Please visit the link below for the complete guide.

Some holiday favorites are packed with fat and sugar; to help keep the calories to a minimum without missing out, follow the tips below:

  • Read the labels– Compare and contrast within different brands of your favorite holiday drinks. Pay special attention to serving sizes between brands as they may not be on the same scale.
  • Go easy on the toppings-To save yourself some unnecessary calories, skip out on the marshmallows and whipped toppings on your beverage.
  • Mix it up– Fill your glass with half water or skim milk to save yourself some calories on drinks like egg nog and apple cider
  • Watch the base– When making drinks, make sure to use low-fat milk or water as bases rather than full-fat milk or crème.
  • Avoid the alcohol– Stick to non-alcoholic or “virgin” drinks when you can to avoid extra calories.
  • Savor the Flavor– Use herbs and spices to season your food in place of salt and butter.
  • Make smart choices– Go for the lighter pieces of turkey as they contain fewer calories and fat.
  • Gravy– Keep the gravy to 1 tablespoon portion or less.  Gravy is typically high in fat and sodium.
  • Fill up before the meal– Make sure you eat a substantial breakfast before your gathering to avoid overeating.
  • Get involved-To control what is served, volunteer to help plan the menu for the holiday party, or cook some of the meal.
  • Fill up on veggies– Often a good source of fiber, these will help control your appetite while providing nutrients. Watch out for vegetable casseroles as they are often made with crème bases and fatty cheeses.
  • Share dessert– If you love dessert, partner up. Share dessert with a friend to cut your portion in half.

Finally, the guide covers the importance of staying physically active during the holidays.  It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderately vigorous physical activity.  Being active may be harder to achieve during the holidays than during the rest of the year.  Tucker and Gilliland found that physical activity decreases with extreme weather and that a seasonal effect plays into account. (Tucker and Gilliland, 2007) It’s important for dietitians living in colder regions to continue to encourage physical activity through the season.    Here are some tips on how to stay active during the holidays:

Physical Activity
  • Join a gym– If the cold weather isn’t for you, join a local gym. Find a workout plan that you will stick to and enjoy.  Group fitness classes may be fun and motivating if you haven’t tried them.  Try to go with a friend. Find what works best for you and your schedule.
  • Play outside– It’s the holidays, time for family fun! Pick up the sled and join in on the fun this winter, try ice skating with family and friends, or even walk down the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights.
  • Join an indoor league– If sports are your thing, try to join an indoor league. It won’t feel like exercise once you get back into the competitive spirit.
  • Little steps– Don’t forget about the little ways you can increase your activity this winter. Take the stairs over the elevator or go for a walk during your lunch break.
Do you have tips we missed? We’d love to hear them!  Please leave them below.

AHA Holiday Eating Guide

Tucker, P., Gilliland, J., The effect of season and weather on physical activity: A systematic review. Public Health, Dec 2007 Vol. 121, Issue 12, Pages 909–922.

8 Ways to Stay Active This Winter (Infographic)

This was posted by Robin Allen, a member of OneOp (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the OneOp Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebookon Twitterand LinkedIn.