The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Plan Healthy During the Holidays!

Posted in
Eat better

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015

Are you stressed about overindulging this holiday season? It comes as no surprise that the average person will gain 4-6 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, then spends the next several weeks trying to lose the extra weight. We have talked about this before but it doesn't hurt to be reminded. Here are tips to help you avoid sabotaging your healthy habits this holiday season.

Avoid Self-Defeating Goals: Vowing to avoid your favorite foods or promising to lose weight over this season is often counterproductive. Instead, work on maintaining your body weight and allow yourself to enjoy foods in moderation. If you overeat one night, don’t punish yourself--you haven’t blown it. Just eat a little less the next day and exercise a bit more. It’s a balancing act.

Plan Ahead: Deprivation leads to overeating. Plan ahead and avoid going to a party starving. Have a small snack and eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day to minimize overindulging. When your appetite is satiated you will be able to make thoughtful food choices.

Some experts estimate that the average person consumes 3,000 calories in a holiday meal. When filling your plate, here are some tips to lighten up:

  • Go for white meat over dark. It has fewer calories.
  • Watch your sides. Cheese, dressings, sour cream, gravy and butter add calories quickly.
  • Opt for steamed, grilled, baked/roasted over fried foods.
  • Fresh is always best! Try roasted vegetables as a side dish or fresh cranberries over canned.
  • For dessert or baked goods, try sugar substitutes or fruit purees instead of oil.

Control Your Portions: Think of filling your plate with lots of vegetables, roasted potatoes and white turkey meat. Satisfying yourself with high-fiber, protein-rich foods will make you feel more satisfied and less likely to fill your plate a second time. Spend time during the day recalling what you have eaten to avoid food amnesia. Be mindful of what you put on your plate to avoid overdoing it.

Go Easy on the Alcohol: The more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to lose inhibitions and overeat. If you choose to drink during the holidays, here are some tips to keep calories in check:

  • Have one non-alcoholic drink in between each alcoholic drink.
  • Select ‘lighter’ versions of your favorites when possible.
  • Have food in your stomach before you drink.
  • Sip your drinks to make them last longer.
  • Drink lots of water whenever you are drinking.

Keep Moving: Find any opportunity to stay active during the season. Keep your body moving and find ways to incorporate exercise into your schedule. Just taking a walk makes a huge difference for overall well-being and weight control.

Most importantly - enjoy being with family and friends during this happy holiday season.

To learn more about weight control, physical activity, and healthy eating, consider The Cooper Institute’s Nutrition for Health and FitnessWeight Loss Strategies, or Personal Training Education workshops. You don’t need to be a fitness professional to take a course, the general public is welcome.