Avoiding holiday weight

Avoiding holiday weight

After a year’s anticipation of grandma’s cornbread dressing, mom’s creamy mashed potatoes and a spread of cakes, pies and cookies, it is hard not to succumb to temptation over the holidays.

Given that temptation can stretch from the Thanksgiving feast to the New Year’s Day football-watching spread, it is easy to overeat and pack on some extra pounds.

“Most people gain 1 to 2 pounds over the holidays,” said Yasseen Schiller, outpatient and clinical dietitian at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine. “Unless they lose those pounds, they will add another 2 pounds the following year and after that the weight becomes harder to lose.”

Katie Green, a clinical dietitian at BRMC at Grapevine, said it is OK to partake in a holiday meal, but do so in moderation.

“Fill half of your plate with salad and veggies—the healthy foods that are good for you,” Green said.  “A quarter of the plate should be for protein such as turkey, and the final quarter should be for starchy sides, such as macaroni and cheese, dressing or mashed potatoes. That way, you will be able to eat some of the foods you haven’t had in a year but not too much. If you want some pumpkin pie, take just a sliver, enough to give you just a taste.”

Health and wellness experts say the goal of holiday eating should be no different than any other time of the year: Portion control should be the most important factor in making wise eating choices.

“People tend to overeat during the holidays because they don’t know how to control their portions,” Green said. “You should eat to the point you are satisfied and not stuffed.”

Overindulging on holiday foods can be dangerous to people with medical conditions, such as gall bladder disease, diabetes or pancreatitis.

Dr. Loren Lasater, a family practice physician affiliated with BRMC at Grapevine, said diabetes continues to be a growing threat in the United States as the number of people living with the disease continues to rise.

His advice for healthful holiday eating is to eat some type of protein, such as nuts or a small piece of meat, and drink a full glass of water before a holiday meal or get-together.

“Spend more time talking with family and friends,” he said. “It is hard to talk and eat at the same time.”

Also, be mindful of the wasteful calories in spiked eggnog and other holiday drinks, he said.

“The rule of thumb should be one glass of wine for women and two for men,” Lasater said.

He said the holidays are a busy time of year, but fitting in time to exercise is important.

“Don’t wait until after the holidays to work out,” Lasater said. “Work in time to do it during the holidays.”