Eating and being physically active during the holiday season

Careful consideration should be taken throughout the year, but especially during holiday season, to prevent weight gain by eating healthy and maintaining an exercise regimen.

Thanksgiving meal with a plate piled with turkey, green beans, carrots and oranges.

As the days draw shorter and temperatures decrease, we know that the holiday season is upon us. Not only do we usually indulge ourselves during this time, but we also become less physically active. It is not surprising that the average American gains about a pound this time of year. There are numerous reasons for this weight gain, especially the overall busyness we tend to have, with parties and preparing for them. Outside of the usual overindulging we go through with at the table, these busy schedules often cause us to reach for more convenient options that are not necessarily the most nutrient-dense. What are some approaches we can use year round, but especially at this time of year to minimize or prevent weight gain?

Methods to Utilize When Eating This Holiday Season

There are numerous techniques that can be employed to help us enjoy eating during the holiday season, while not going overboard by eating too much. One of these options is to utilize mindful eating practices, as described in previous articles. Mindful eating allows you to checking in with yourselves to see if you are actually hungry, gives you time to appraise and admire your meal, encourages slowing down your eating, lets you savor and taste every bite and helps you stop when you are full. Another method is to substitute foods with lower calorie options. This could include using sugar substitutes during baking to maintain the sweet taste we enjoy in our desserts, but reducing the number of calories we consume. Other options could be using low fat or fat-free substitutes. One could also load up on more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, but also include some dessert. Other helpful hints for eating during the holiday season can be found here.

Physical Activity During the Holidays

Although the holiday season is upon us, this is not a reason to give up on your current physical activity habits. The best recommendation is to maintain your current physical activity schedule, whether that is going to the gym or outside for a run. However, the busyness of this time of year, plus changes in the weather, are not necessarily conducive to performing physical activity. There are approaches to this dilemma. For example, if you currently run outdoors, you may have to make some modifications such as running on an indoor track, or taking up cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. To prevent extra weight gain, the simplest method is to burn, or expend, more calories. This could be as simple as adding an extra workout day, or encourage some family bonding time and going for walks. Remember, although you may miss a workout or two, it is not the end of the world nor the most important part of the holiday season.

This time of year, we usually consume more foods, especially the sweet ones, and perform less physical activity, however, there are numerous methods we can employ to help us still enjoy the holidays, without gaining that extra pound of body weight. This could be changing the way we eat, or performing extra physical activity. Regardless, we should also utilize these methods throughout the year.

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