in Moderation this Holiday Season
By Nancy A. Melville, HealthScoutNews
can be as much a holiday tradition as mistletoe and eggnog. And
so are those attempts to battle the Christmas bulge, which often
backfire and result in elusive New Year's pledges to shape up
and slim down.
So how can
you survive the season with your waistline intact? With reason
and moderation, nutrition experts say.
biggest mistake you can make in anticipation of a big holiday
meal is to skip meals or eat very little ahead of time. This only
creates an inflated appetite, experts say.
you starve yourself all day in anticipation of a big meal or party,
you'll often wind up eating much more than you would have otherwise,"
says Diane Quagliani, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for
the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
on top of defeating the purpose of getting fewer calories, you're
probably not going to feel great later on," she adds.
A better approach,
Quagliani says, is to have smaller meals and maybe a small snack
before the party or dinner, so you're not ravenous.
Mercer, another ADA spokeswoman and a registered nutritionist:
"It's much better to eat smaller amounts more frequently
than to sit down and eat huge meals. If you have a healthy snack,
you'll simply feel better, and you get to use more calories in
a more balanced way."
with a party tray full of delectables, it's best to step back
and assess your appetite, says Quagliani.
a good idea to stop for a minute and listen to your inner cues
to see if you're really hungry, because a lot of times we get
into the routine of just taking it because it's being offered.
But if you're not really hungry, you shouldn't be having it,"
advisor Julia Ross, author of "The Diet Cure: The 8-Step
Program to Rebalance Your Body Chemistry and End Food Cravings,
Weight Problems and Mood Swings," offers a somewhat unconventional
tip for preventing overeating: Make sure to get enough light.
levels of light in winter have been linked to reduced serotonin
levels in the brain, she says, and that can cause winter blues
-- sometimes known as seasonal affective disorder. One way the
body tries to compensate for that is through food, she adds.
starchy carbohydrates and sweets causes a chain reaction that
can boost serotonin, so your body can try to compensate for the
lower light by overeating," Ross says.
getting plenty of bright light, whether at home or work, by using
a 200-watt bulb in a fixture near you to suppress winter carb
Ross says, nutritional supplements such as the amino acids Glutamine
and 5-HTP, plus a multi-vitamin, also work to curb food cravings,
not to mention feelings of depression.
Here are a
few more tips from the ADA on healthy holiday eating habits:
- Be realistic.
Don't try to lose weight during the holidays -- this can be
a self-defeating goal. Instead, strive to maintain your current
- Be active
and keep moving. Walk the aisles of the mall, go ice-skating
with your family, or plan a party that involves fitness, like
bowling, skiing, dancing or hiking.
lower-calorie party foods. Raw vegetables with a small amount
of dip -- just enough to coat the tip of the vegetable -- are
a good choice. Or try boiled shrimp or scallops with cocktail
sauce or lemon. Go easy on fried appetizers and cheeses, though.
your eating throughout the day. This doesn't mean skipping a
meal, just eating less.
yourself away from the food table at parties. Focus on the people
at the party rather than obsessing about food. Survey the many
food choices and allow yourself the three most-appealing items;
serve yourself a single moderate portion of each item.
way to regulate your appetite and burn off calories is through
busy around the holidays, and sometimes that offers a good excuse
not to get any exercise in," says Mercer. "But I recommend
just trying to squeeze it in whenever you can and not worrying
about keeping a schedule."
adds that exercising around the holidays also offers the additional
benefit of reducing that inevitable heaping of holiday stress.
Do: Visit the American Dietetic Association for more
healthy lifestyle nutritional tips. And try the National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for more information
weight loss and control.