2018-12-21 / Viewpoint

Holiday wellness: Planning can help prevent packing on the pounds

United Healthcare

Thanks to the many holiday dinners, parties and home-baked sweets brought to work, the average American gains about one or two pounds during the holiday season.

Unfortunately, that extra weight often stays with us and builds up year to year. But with some planning and willpower, you may be able to avoid that holiday weight gain. Here are some tips:

Focus on fun. Meet and mingle with people before you move toward the food. Relish the company and conversation. Maybe later you can put on your dancing shoes!

Start with green-leaf salads and veggies. Before you hit the entrees or desserts, focus on selecting foods like green-leaf salads or veggies.

Beware of the buffet. Don’t overdo. Take small portions of your favorites or foods that you don’t normally eat the rest of the year, but only go through the buffet once – no seconds!

Don’t skip a meal before the party. That may lead to overeating.

Try new baking strategies. Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas instead of butter. Try using half the amount of sugar in recipes.

Choose beverages wisely. Satisfy your thirst with low-calorie options like water with a slice of lemon or lime. Think before you drink: alcoholic beverages provide calories with few nutrients. A glass of dessert wine can contain around 160 calories. A cup of eggnog has about 225 calories. If you choose to drink, use moderation. Moderate drinking means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two for men. Some people should not use alcohol at all.

Bring your own food to share. Suggestions include whole-grain crackers with hummus, a variety of unsalted nuts, vegetables with a fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese dip, or a whole-grain pasta salad dressed with a little olive oil.

Exercise. Balance those extra calories with more physical activity. Make being active a part of your holiday tradition. Instead of watching television, take a walk with family and friends after a holiday meal. If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.

Be realistic. Rather than trying to drop pounds during the holidays, your goal may be to maintain your weight.

• Celebrate the true meaning of the holiday. Play down the importance of food. Focus on what the holidays are really about – such as spending time with family and friends, or celebrating religious traditions.

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