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Weight gain around the holidays is an American tradition. Let’s face it, we work and live in a giving society, where the gift of “bulge” comes in the form of holiday cookies, cakes, candy, care packages, office parties, holiday dinners, and desserts.
Making healthy eating choices this time of year can be a challenge. We’re inclined to take larger portions and eat more fat and sugar when the weather is colder. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed increased calorie intake in the fall, peaking in winter. In nature, animals pack on body fat for protection from the winter cold. Remember that we have winter coats to keep us warm and follow these tips for maintaining your weight and overall health:
• Keep healthy snacks everywhere Cut up and package raw veggies and fruits so you can pull them from the fridge on your way out the door, whether you’re heading for work, shopping, or carpooling. Add a few whole-grain crackers with a little natural peanut butter. These snacks will sustain you and keep you from making high-calorie choices when you’re in the throes of hunger.
• Locate lighter versions of your favorite holiday recipes Use the internet and healthy cookbooks to find them. Check out this recipe for lightened-up pumpkin pie cake at Cooking Light.
• Make healthy substitutions in your holiday cooking Use canola oil instead of shortening, try a sugar substitute like stevia or agave nectar, substitute Smart Balance for butter, use whole-grain or rice bread crumbs instead of those made from white flour.
• Don’t “save your appetite” for that large meal On days when you know you’ll be enjoying a feast, eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch. This will keep your metabolism clicking along and prevent you from over-eating at the festive table.
• Get moving…every day Bundle up and go for a brisk walk, join a gym or community center, take mini-breaks at work to walk up several flights of stairs, or find a home aerobics DVD you and your family can do together.
• Track what you eat You’ll naturally want to enjoy a few goodies during the holidays. Writing down what you eat and when you eat it will help keep you from going overboard.
We’re offering Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) body composition testing at a discounted seasonal rate right now, to help you stay in touch with your body’s health and composition. BIA allows you to chart your body fat, muscle, metabolism, and hydration. Three BIA analyses are recommended through the holidays to track your progress and results. We also offer our patients complete lifestyle dietary programs.
For more information, please contact us at WholeHealth Chicago, 773-296-6700.
David Edelberg, MD