Holiday Health Goals

Stay on Track with Your Health Goals This Holiday Season


01/02/20

‘Tis the season for indulgence. Studies show it’s common for adults’ weight to increase up to 0.6 percent from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, amid all the feasts and parties.

From the extra slice of pie to the holiday cookies, holiday snacks can add more than 200 calories to your daily dietary intake. The good news is you don’t have to deprive yourself over the holidays. Through gaining awareness and making healthier choices, you can enjoy seasonal fare without the guilt.

“My advice—whether it’s during the holidays or the year—is just to be aware of what you are eating,” said Dr. Brian Goerig, a family physician with St. Joseph Health Primary Care William D. Fitch. “We unconsciously snack, eat cookies, drink hot chocolate, alcohol, etc., and these calories add up.”

Many treats can be high in calories while also lacking nutritional value, so it’s important to limit them, said Dr. Goerig. Meanwhile, filling up on healthier snacks like fruits and vegetables will improve your health long-term.

Another important aspect of staying healthy through the holidays is maintaining routine physical activity. “Schedule it,” said Dr. Goerig. “Put it on your calendar. Make it an appointment like any other activity.”

Having a plan and an alternative plan allows you to mentally prepare for activity and have fewer excuses for skipping a workout, said Dr. Goerig. “Also, from a purely weight-loss perspective, realize that not being physically active means you need to reduce your calorie intake to maintain an equilibrium of energy expenditures.”

One of the most common concerns Dr. Goerig’s patients often have heading into the holidays is the temptations they will face. “There are just so many good tasting treats and items during the holiday season that it’s almost impossible not to partake,” said Dr. Goerig. “This is why I stress the importance of being mentally aware of making those decisions, so hopefully, the patient can at least limit the quantity of the items they are eating and limit their overall calorie intake.”

In addition to eating mindfully and getting regular exercise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control also offers the following tips:

  • Have a plan
    • Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady.
    • Offer to bring healthy dishes to gatherings.
    • If you plan to splurge on dessert, limit carbs like potatoes and bread during the meal.
    • Don’t skip meals.
    • If you overindulge, go back to healthy eating with your next meal.
  • Choose healthier items from the buffet
    • Make a small tasting plate of your favorite foods, and move away from the buffet table.
    • Eat your vegetables first.
    • Chew your food slowly, so your brain has time to register that you’re full.
    • Avoid or limit alcohol.
  • Get plenty of rest
    • Getting adequate sleep helps you manage your blood sugar and avoid feeling deprived. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Most importantly, enjoy your holiday and special moments with the people you love. Focus on your friends and family and making cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Sources:
New England Journal of Medicine - Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries
Dr. Brian Goerig, family physician, St. Joseph Health Primary Care William D. Fitch
U.S. Centers for Disease Control

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