The pounds we gain during the holidays tend to linger long after the tables are cleared, starting at Thanksgiving. The average American consumes 4,500 calories and nearly 230 grams of fat during a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (and that doesn’t include late-night snacking on leftovers!).
When all is said and done, most people gain an average of 1-2 pounds during the holiday season and then never lose them. Year after year, those extra pounds add up, potentially causing major health issues as we age.
As we begin the hustle and bustle of the holidays once again, healthy eating and exercising are usually the first things to fall by the wayside. FastMed is here to help you stay on track this holiday season.
How to eat healthy over the holidays
If you’re actively trying to lose weight right now, we suggest shifting your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. You can allow yourself a few indulgences over the holidays, then get back to your weight loss plan at the start of 2023.
So, how can you enjoy family favorites and special treats at holiday time without gaining weight? It’s not as hard as you might think, as long as you’re willing to do some pre-planning. Here are several tips to help lighten up your holiday meals and keep your weight stable:
Plan your menu
Plan meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Target foods that are rich in nutrients but lower in fat, calories and sugar.
Start out light
Instead of heavy appetizers loaded with calories, serve lighter fare like vegetables with low-fat yogurt dip, shrimp cocktail or fresh fruit skewers.
Serve healthier vegetable dishes
Just because there are vegetables in it doesn’t mean it’s healthy! For example, you can swap fresh green beans for green bean casserole. Or if you must have casserole, use low-fat soup, extra beans and crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.
Make other calorie-saving swaps
Use chicken stock, light cream cheese and low-fat milk instead of their full-fat versions. You can also use applesauce in place of oil in baked goods. Your guests will probably never notice the difference!
Say farewell to frying
Fried turkey is a popular Thanksgiving trend, but roasting or grilling meat, seafood, potatoes and vegetables is always the healthier option.
Take it easy with toppings
You can cut a lot of calories by using less sauce, gravy, butter, cheese, whipped cream, nuts and other toppings. Better yet, skip toppings altogether and focus on enjoying the flavor of the dish itself.
Offer diet-friendly desserts
Chocolate-dipped strawberries or pumpkin pie made with non-fat evaporated milk are excellent (and delicious) choices!
Avoid too much alcohol
Eggnog and other holiday beverages, especially alcohol, can add lots of calories and increase your hunger. Use sparkling water instead of sugary cocktail mixers, or stick to simple choices like beer and wine.
It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so taste and savor every bite. If you’re still hungry after 20 minutes, eat more vegetables or drink water instead of going for seconds.
Did you know that a whole food, plant-based diet and avoidance of processed foods can help to maintain weight?
it is important to increase water intake, limit salt/sodium, and avoid both regular and diet soda (no nutritional value).
Make sure that you get enough sleep and rest during busy holiday times.
Forgive yourself and try again
If you do splurge, don’t beat yourself up. Just commit to making better choices at the next meal or party.
How to make time for exercise over the holidays
Between jam-packed calendars, shopping, cooking and traveling, it can be hard to fit in exercise during holiday time – but we need exercise during the holidays more than ever. It’s not just for the weight-loss benefits. Exercise also releases stress, improves our mood and helps us sleep better.
These tips can help you stay active during the busy holiday months:
Mark your calendar
Schedule your workouts just like you would schedule any holiday activity, party or event.
Break up your workout time
No room on your calendar? Squeeze in 10-15 minutes of exercise whenever you can throughout the day. It adds up!
Make the most of holiday shopping
Park your vehicle at the back of the parking lot or take a few extra laps around the store to add steps.
Instead of going to the gym, take a family walk or plan a fun outdoor activity together.
Take advantage of airports and rest areas
Layovers and driving breaks are the perfect time to stretch your legs and take a quick walk.
No gym? No problem
You can do a lot in your hotel room or Grandma’s guest room, such as sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats, jumping jacks and burpees.
How to encourage family and friends to join your healthy holiday approach
Sit down with your family and friends and tell them about your holiday health goals, so they can encourage you or join in. Involve your children by having them help you shop for groceries, plan menus and prepare holiday foods. Most importantly, lead by example – if you eat the foods you want your kids to eat, they’re more likely to follow suit.
Some well-meaning relatives may encourage you to forget about healthy eating and exercising during the holidays. Remind them that the most important part of the holiday season is being together, and make the best choices you can. Your body will thank you for it!
FastMed Is open for you
All FastMed urgent care locations are open on weekdays, weekends and most holidays – all you have to do is walk in or schedule a visit online. Whether you get food poisoning at a holiday party, fall off a ladder while putting up decorations or any other holiday mishap, we’re here for you! Find your nearest FastMed location and visit us today.
FastMed is one of the nation’s largest urgent care providers, proudly serving communities across North Carolina. FastMed provides a broad range of acute/episodic, preventive, and occupational healthcare – in its clinics and via telemedicine – as well as family medicine at select locations. FastMed is one of the few urgent care providers in the nation that has earned The Joint Commission’s coveted Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information, visit www.fastmed.com.