Faculty voice:

Elizabeth Hanna: Holiday weight maintenance

Dec. 14, 2016

Elizabeth Hanna is a family nurse practitioner in the College of Nursing.

The holidays are upon us! This means we tend to gather around many meals, appetizers and beverages. The opportunity to make poor food/drink choices is almost daily. Every year, my challenge around the holiday season is to try to move into January wearing the same size clothes as the year before. I do not want to spend money or time shopping to buy new clothes because I do not fit into my existing wardrobe. I must give myself a pep talk about the ways to curb this weight gain every year.

Here are 10 tips to maintain your weight:

  1. Move your body: Dust off that old elliptical or treadmill and use it while watching your evening program or listening to your favorite music. Think about finding that gym membership card and reacquainting yourself with the place. Start slowly. Remember, a “light” or “bad” workout is better than NO workout at all. How about a walk after dinner with a loved one, your pet or a friend?
  2. Prior to your holiday party: Eat a healthy snack prior to the gathering so you are not showing up hungry. Drink water prior to the party as well. This way, you will feel fuller and this will hopefully cause you to eat less of those high calorie, high fat and rich holiday foods.
  3. Fill up on fruits and veggies: In clinic, we talk with our patients about the daily recommended five servings of fruits and veggies. How many of us can honestly say this happens in our own lives? Take a couple days and count your servings. When I did this, I was very surprised to find out that I was only averaging two to three servings daily, not five. Remember that compared with other snack foods, fruits and veggies have fewer calories and are more nutritious. Also, the fiber is filling.
  4. Not a good idea: Skipping a meal prior to the holiday party, thinking that you are “saving up calories.” This just doesn’t work! You end up going to the party extremely hungry which tends to cause over eating.
  5. Move the snack jar away: This applies to your workspace and at home on a counter, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
  6. What to bring to a potluck? Bring a healthy dish to pass like a fruit or veggie plate. Over Thanksgiving with my family, there were 12 different appetizers, none of which were remotely healthy (all very rich and tasty though). If your dish to pass is healthy, there is one good choice. You will be surprised how much of the healthy dishes are eaten by everyone – including the kids.
  7. Desserts: If you must have the family’s famous chocolate pie, take a piece and split it with someone. Have three bites and savor each bite.
  8. Beverage choices: Limit alcohol to one to two servings and make sure to drink lots of water. Calories from alcohol are not filling and tend to be more than people realize.
  9. Family food pusher: Most families have at least one. This is the family member who lovingly puts food in front of you urging you on. Politely say “no thank you, but everything was fabulous.”
  10. Moderation: As with everything we do, moderation is the key. 

The holidays are about connecting and celebrating with family and friends while creating good memories. It is important to enjoy these times. Having a plan in place to guide healthy lifestyle choices will make the occasion that much more enjoyable.

Reused with permission from the College of Nursing