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How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

November 26, 2018

It’s that time of year again when we’re faced with cold weather and short days, not to mention the holiday season. There are so many challenges for us to stay on track and remain focused on healthy living.

You can survive and thrive during this busy, hectic time of year by following a few simple steps. These tips can help keep you moving toward your goals and prevent weight gain:

Tip No. 1:  Always have a plan before going out to a special event, holiday party or gathering. If you are attending an event where food will be served, try to find out what’s on the menu. If you don’t feel comfortable with the choices, or are unsure of what kind of food will be served, bring your own healthy choice to share.

Start looking at healthy holiday recipes now so you have a few fun options. It is also important to eat normally during the day of an event. Depriving yourself of food prior to a party typically leads to over-eating and poor choices at dinner.

Tip No. 2: Portion control. When at dinner parties or gatherings where self-serve or buffet-style foods are on the menu, use a smaller plate. Choosing healthy proteins and foods high in fiber, like fruits and vegetables, can help limit excess calorie intake and make you feel fuller. Also, once you have your plate of food, move away from the serving area to avoid unnecessary sampling or grazing.

Tip No. 3: Be mindful of liquid calories. Alcohol and sweet holiday drinks, like eggnog and soda, are high in calories and sugar. Also, alcohol intake can increase your appetite and lower your inhibitions for unhealthy food choices.

Tip No. 4: Exercise. Going for a brisk walk or workout at the gym the day of an event can “buy” you flexibility in the choices you make for food at the party or gathering. Exercise can also aid in appetite control and is a great way to spend time with your friends and family around the holidays.

Tip No. 5: Take some time each day to reduce your stress. We all know how keeping up with the pace and demands of the holiday season can be stressful. Do some deep-breathing exercises or meditation for 5 to 10 minutes to break that cycle of stress. Another great way to relieve stress is exercise, especially with a friend.

Tip No. 6: Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep. Being tired or sleep-deprived can lead to an increased level of hunger and consumption of calories. Also, the more tired your are, the less active you are. This can mean more calories in and fewer calories expended.

Tip No. 7:  Use your support network. Having a friend or family member that shares your goal of weight loss can be useful to keep you motivated and on track. Touch base regularly with your partner to help keep each other accountable and focused on your goals.

Tip No. 8: Remember, the holiday season is meant to enjoy with friends, family, co-workers and all of those who are near to your heart. It is OK to take time out to enjoy old and new traditions alike. Don’t deprive yourself of these wonderful times, but always keep your eye on the new “healthier” year ahead.

Remember, the snow will melt, the sun will again shine warmly on us, and we will see the light of day when the work day is over when spring returns.

Happy, healthy and a safe holiday season to all!

Peter Ford is a medical weight loss specialist at the Hartford HealthCare Surgical & Medical Weight Loss Center.

To schedule a free educational session with a surgeon at the Division of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at the Hartford Hospital Department of Surgery, call 855.792.6258 or visit Whatwillyougain.org.