November 27, 2000
Avoiding the 'Battle of the Bulge' during the holidays
by Rebecca Clow, RD Washington State Dairy Council
It's the most wonderful time of the year, but also a time some people dread due to the infamous "holiday weight gain." Foods and festivities go hand-in-hand to make this a special time of year. The warm feelings that holiday treats add to family and community togetherness is good for your health, but weeks of overindulgence are not. The average person gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Let's admit it: traditional holiday fare is not known for being particularly low in fat, sugar or salt, nor high in fiber or essential nutrients.
For some, the holidays become a battleground where self-control is constantly under attack by irresistible temptations.The combination of stress, holiday goodies and lack of exercise weakens our defenses and makes us more vulnerable to holiday weight gain. Consider some of the following suggestions for a healthful and guilt-free holiday season full of eating and enjoyment.Start some new holiday traditions that offer good health, as well as good taste.
Eat for the Right Reasons
Before the holidays hit you head-on, take some time to assess your dietary pitfalls. What are truly your favorite holiday goodies? When you are surrounded by tempting treats, think about what you really want to eat. Realize that one of each will be too many, so go for a few of what you really want the most and enjoy them. Don't make the mistake of using the holidays as an excuse to overinduldge.
Make Conscious Choices
Conscious choice means having an awareness of your food selections throughout the day. When you are eating healthful meals, an occasional holiday treat won't make such an impact on your waistline and you will enjoy the treat more. Often you can choose between high and lowfat alternatives.For example, choose a lowfat eggnog over a higher fat version.
Many people make the mistake of skipping meals to "save up" for the big holiday party and find when they arrive they are so hungry all willpower is left at the door.
Try Some New Healthier Recipes
Holiday treats can be good for you as well as satisfying. Many holiday cookbooks present delicious lowfat recipes. Start some new holiday recipe traditions that offer good health, as well as good taste. Regard these healthful alternatives as nourishing and delicious, rather than poor second cousins to what you would traditionally serve.
Take Care of Yourself
The holidays can be hectic, so make time to relax and pamper yourself. Take a long hot bath, enjoy a good book, or take a long walk with a friend. Try to plan a realistic schedule and make yourself a priority.
Get Enough Sleep
Most of us don't get enough sleep. Experts agree that the average adult needs eight hours of sleep per night. It's easy to miss out on sleep during this season of parties, travel, visitors, and too much to do. Adequate sleep is essential for good health and stress management. If you can swing it, take a short nap before a big function to relieve the day's stress and fatigue.
Lack of time is the number one excuse people use to not exercise during the year. Imagine how much it is used during the "hectic holiday season." Remind yourself that exercise may help to manage holiday stress and balance out eating those extra holiday goodies. Give yourself the gift of good health and make time to do something special for yourself. You deserve it. With a positive attitude, a little planning and some physical activity, you can arm yourself for the "Battle of the Buldge" this holiday season and stand proud as you greet the New Year with a healthier, happier you.
Rebecca Clow, RD is Nutrition Consultant with the Washington State Dairy Council/Non-Profit Nutrition Education Agency.