Don't eat like every day is a holiday.

Thanksgiving signals the start of the holiday season. While the holidays are supposed to be a time for celebration, they are also dreaded by those of us trying to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.  However, eating more on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or other holidays doesn’t mean you’ll fall short of your health and fitness goals.

Eating a piece or two of pie during Thanksgiving week isn’t going to add extra weight all by itself. It takes 3500 extra calories to add a pound of fat to your body. That’s equal to about an entire nine-inch, high-fat pumpkin pie and three cups of full-fat eggnog. And that’s just for one pound! So eating more on a few days during the holiday season won’t negate your usual healthy dietary habits; however, eating like it’s a holiday for days at a time due to parties and leftovers – creating a “holi-week” – can.

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight around the holidays is to plan ahead, watching what you eat and staying active in the weeks and months leading up to and following the holidays.  Having the attitude that you don’t have to eat huge portions to enjoy holiday foods can also make a big difference.

This year, try to eat holiday foods more slowly and mindfully so that you can savor and enjoy the treat. This may also help intensify the flavor and enjoyment of eating foods you might only eat once per year, while reducing total calories. Another tip that may help your conscience and waistline is to moderately increase your exercise duration or frequency to burn the extra calories you may consume during the holidays.

Enjoy this year’s holidays, but get back on track with your healthy eating habits as soon as possible.  For more tips on healthy holiday eating, visit the Health-e-Weight section of our website or considering enrolling in Beat the Bulge Weight Management Challenge, a personalized online weight management program that will help you prepare for the holiday season.

- This post was adapted from an article written by Marc O’Meara, RD, LDN.

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