By D. Levi Harrison, MD
As an orthopedic surgeon and fitness expert, I am asked questions about weight loss and fitness. These questions are asked even more during the holidays. Gaining weight during one holiday season can occur easily if you are not focused about maintaining your weight during this time of year. Over indulging with food and drinks are common place during November and December. There are so many festive holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa which involve food and drinks. These occasions should be enjoyed and celebrated with balance and moderation.
Here are my top 7 tips to curtail weight gain during the holidays. If you apply these simple caveats, be assured that you will be able to maintain your weight during the holidays.
1. Eat before you go to any party or festival. This can help you to not over-eat simply because the food is there. Also, consider eating only hors d’oeuvres that are mainly veggies without heavy cream or highly saturated fatty sauces. Consider not eating fried foods or those smothered in gravy.
2. Cradle one alcoholic drink per party. Be resigned to having only one alcoholic beverage per party and consider having some fruit juice or tonic water mixed with that drink. Consider not drinking alcohol for at least one party per week. Alcohol is filled with non-nutritional calories and will also dehydrate the body.
3. Minimize eating multiple desserts during the holidays. Consider eating only one or two bites from two different desserts at each party. Consider choosing those desserts that are not fried or filled with cream like a plain fruit tart or a fruit salad. Be mindful of your dessert choices because they may stay with you “long after the holidays”.
4. Inform the host or hostess of any event, that you are looking forward to attending their event, but that you are on a new fitness program with specific nutritional requirements. This may also remind them to have more healthy food choices for everyone at the event. This is a “win-win” for all party revelers. More than likely, they will be receptive and supportive of your lifestyle change. This will take the pressure off of you. They will be more considerate and not try to have you taste many different foods that they have prepared. Also they will not be insulted when you decline certain items.
5. Continue to exercise during the holidays. Do your best to continue to exercise between 30 and 60 minutes every day. Consider leaving any party early enough so that you can get in a long refreshing walk or jog after any party. The body will appreciate and honor your efforts to stay fit.
6. Have a set amount of time that you will spend at a party. Consider 60-90 minutes per party. This is important because the longer you remain at an event, there is a greater chance of eating or drinking more than planned.
7. Minimize stress during the holidays. Do not feel obligated to go to every office party or pot-luck event. Go to the events that are truly joyous with authentic people. Avoid feeling that you have to go to a party to impress the boss or other co-workers because you are still working when this happens and not truly having a joyous time.
These 7 simple tips will give you an advantage during the holiday season. If you apply them, you should be able to maintain your weight and fitness level and decrease the stress is your life.
Every day is a gift! Enjoy the holidays. Cheers!