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10 steps to avoid holiday weight gain

Posted: December 13, 2011 2:35 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Most of us have heard that you typically gain a few pounds during the winter holiday season, but did you know that this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity and the diseases associated with it later in life? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all adult Americans are overweight, as defined by body mass index. Body mass index is a mathematical formula used to correct body weight to account for a person’s height. The latest survey from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control shows 68.2 percent of Kershaw County adults are overweight or obese, 45.4 percent don’t meet the physical activity recommendation (150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or a combination of the too) and 83.6 percent consume less than five servings of fruit or vegetables a day.

So what can you do to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season? Here are 10 steps to save your waist from unwanted holiday inches and prevent lifelong health problems.

1. Walk it off. Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Another effective way to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained aerobic activity. To burn off those extra calories, kick up your exercise.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. The recommendation is 5 fruits and vegetables a day but aim for seven-a-day. The fiber in fruits and vegetables fill you up faster than traditional snack foods. Pack your refrigerator with bags of cut-up vegetables and fruits.

3. Control the risk for temptation. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the ones you can. Make a pact with co-workers that goodies will be kept solely in the break room if at all in your workplace. Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations. If you can’t avoid them entirely, see number 4.

4. Limit to one-a-day. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising.

5. Pace Yourself. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with fewer calories. Put your fork down between every bite. This puts you in control.

6. Rethink your drink. Before you pick up that can of soda, choose water or milk. Also, avoid drinking too much alcohol. It’s not only about calories but about control. If you drink a lot you won’t have as much control over what you eat. If you’re at a party, you can always sip on water or club soda so you have something to sip like everyone else and don’t feel out of place.

7. Always Plan Ahead. Never go to a party hungry. You’ll be tempted to eat larger portion sizes and bigger isn’t always better. If you’re attending a pot-luck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share that way you’ll know you have a least one healthy item on the buffet.

8. Limit ‘Tastes’ while cooking. If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those “tastes”. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post- seasoning.

9. Say No Politely. Do you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you? Learn to say no politely, such as “Everything was delicious”, or “I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful”. You’ll find saying no isn’t so hard to do after all.

10. Focus on Socializing. Don’t stand around the food table when you’re at a party. Focus on conversations, not on foods. Talking is calorie-free!

You don’t have to gain weight this holiday season or in 2012! The key is your mindset. Remember, the holidays are meant to celebrate good times with family and friends. Enjoy the holidays and plan effective strategies to help you achieve your weight loss goals. Happy Holidays from your friends at Eat Smart, Move More Kershaw County!

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