Avoiding weight gain this holiday season…

This time of year is a joyful one, but can also be a difficult time to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.  With the holiday season in full swing, there are many social gatherings in your near future… all revolving around delicious food and festive cocktails.  It is understandable how the average American manages to gain at least some weight from November to January.  Here are five useful tips to help prevent that unwanted weight gain this season.
Don’t skip meals.  Skipping meals “to save up all your calories for later” may sound like a good plan, but this strategy usually backfires.  Heading to the party hungry is never a good idea.  When the time comes to finally eat, you are more apt to over-do it because you haven’t eaten all day.  Instead, be sure to eat balanced meals prior to your party or event.  You will have more self control because you won’t be famished.
Avoid serving yourself large portions. There are usually a lot more options to choose from this time of year and by the time you’ve finished dishing out all the fixings, your plate is piled up with more food than you would normally eat in one sitting.  You will be more likely to finish all the food on your plate (even if you are full) just because it’s in front of you.  Try small scoops or servings of each food item initially. If you find you are still hungry after, then you can go back for more.  Chances are you’ll be satisfied and won’t need the second helping.
Eat slowly.  Slow down and enjoy the company of your family and friends! Focusing your attention on the conversation will steer you away from mindlessly eating.  On average, it will take about 20 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain telling it you are full. If you scarf down a plate of food in 10 minutes, you may still feel hungry even though you won’t be in 10-15 minutes. This is how we end up in that very uncomfortable food-coma state.  So be sure to join in some good conversation at your social gatherings this season!
Limit excess alcohol and dessert. These are high calorie items so plan accordingly. Scope out the dessert table beforehand and make a decision to only have a small amount of one or two items instead of a smorgasbord.  Try to limit your alcohol intake, not only because the calories add up quickly, but because excess alcohol impairs your judgment and may sabotage your efforts to watch your food intake.
Get moving.  This one is pretty self explanatory.  Exercise is a great way to burn off excess calories and keep your metabolism up.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!
If you would like to schedule a counseling session with a registered dietitian at Noble Hospital, please call 413-568-2811 ex: 5671 for more information.

Allison Walker RD,LDN, is the  Clinical Nutrition Manager at Noble Hospital

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