Be Pro-Active not Re-Active during this next 45 Critical Days of Caloric Intake

  • Published
  • By Maribeth Havran
  • 22nd Medical Group
As the holiday season begins and continues on through the new year, calories seem to sneak up on people without their realization. Don't go into this season without a plan!

On average most people gain between one and two pounds over the holidays -- doesn't sound too bad, right? The problem is that we don't lose those two pounds come January, and we turn around and do it again next year. Then, at the 10 year mark -- we suddenly (or not so suddenly) realize that we've gained 10 to 15 pounds.

Our biggest downfall during the holidays is how to eat healthy but still enjoy it. This may sound counter-intuitive, but in reality, it really is quite simple. Have a plan!

This planning includes knowing the amount of calories in the foods and beverages you plan to eat and drink at all your special events, as well as how many calories you normally eat on a daily basis. The new phone, computer applications and personal measuring devices worn on your person provide instant feedback on a person's activity and calorie burn.

The following are tips to help avoid coming back next year looking like a Thanksgiving turkey.

1) Preparation is key.
Be prepared by packing healthy snacks for holiday parties. Snacking on a piece of fruit, low-fat crackers or a light sandwich can help curb your craving for the high-calorie dessert table.

2) Fix a Plate.
Avoid social grazing. It's easy to pick at food trays that are at a party, especially the dessert table. By fixing a plate, you will be able to monitor the portions of food that you are consuming as well as visibly choose healthy foods. Also, choose a smaller plate, as this will help control your portions.

3) Don't ban yourself from sweets.
The key is to eat sweets in moderation. So choose only one dessert that you feel you must have.  Opt for the smaller portion, but do not use this as justification to choose a second dessert.

4) Go potluck style.
Pitch in and bring a healthy dish, perhaps a veggie tray, fruit plate or snack-sized sandwiches with low-fat mayonnaise. Encourage other co-workers or friends to bring something low fat as well. This will give you more options.

5) When eating, drink water - not punch soda, eggnog or alcohol. Save those beverages for after dinner, it's much easier to monitor your intake. Set limits on those beverages as well and find a driver to take you home if it contains alcohol.

6) Out of sight, out of mind.
Buy decorated holiday tins and fill them with your homemade gifts. Pack your cookies and candies then store them in the freezer. If there are extras, donate them to a church or homeless shelter.

7) Cook it right.
Try substitute cooking - in other words, if there's oil in your recipe, use applesauce in its place.  Choose to cook with low calorie sweeteners instead of sugar or make your punch with diet soda instead of regular. Simple substitutions can save hundreds of calories.

8) Set your goals.
Perhaps your goal is to maintain your weight through the holiday season. Be firm with your convictions and make a conscious effort to do so. Write your goals down and place them on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Also, share them with your friends. A good friend will hold you accountable and check to see that you are sticking to your guns.

9) Get up and move.
Do not forgo your physical activity program! It is more important now than at any other time of year to maintain a regular fitness program. Not only for fitness and calorie burning, but regular exercise will be a great stress reliever during this time of year as well.

If you feel you've eaten too much, go for an after - dinner walk. Get off the couch or out from in front of the TV and move. Whether it's chasing the kids around or helping clean up, you'll burn calories and have a lot more fun doing so. If you are on a current fitness routine, maintain it. It's much easier to maintain your current weight than it is to try to lose after the holiday season.

10) Get involved with a supportive program such as health promotion's annual Healthy Holiday Fitness Challenge, which begins on Dec. 4 and continues weekly through Jan. 4, 2016.  During this challenge, participants check in weekly for a weight and nutrition log review, tips and recipes for the week-end and encouragement. They will also receive email tips throughout week if desired. This program keeps people accountable and helps ensure their success.  (contact Health Promotion at (316) 759-5803 or  to sign up).

Partnership is key to helping maintain during the holidays as well. It is very reinforcing to have workout and nutrition buddy to keep each other in check. Whether it's adding 20 to 30 minutes to a workout or skipping that second piece of pie, maintaining weight and fitness during the holidays isn't impossible -- it's just a challenge.