One of the last things people want to hear during the holidays is that they need to lose weight and exercise more. Still, there are several steps you can take to maintain weight, boost your energy during the coming weeks, and start or continue habits that will help you start the new year right.
“I try to counsel people if they’re overweight to change their habits just a little bit,” said Dana Ingebretson, a registered dietitian with Urban Family Practice and the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN). That includes eating at least three smaller meals throughout the day, each containing a vegetable or fruit, healthy fat and protein.
Ingebretson and Andre Neal, a personal trainer with GBUAHN, offered the following tips for a healthier holiday season.
1. Practice portion control
“The holidays are coming up and you know it’s going to be hard not to eat,” Neal said, “but if you can portion the amount you eat, that’s better.” Portions of most foods at any meal should be about the size of your palm (salads, two palms), with higher-fat foods like cheese or peanut butter more the size of your thumb.
2. Balance counts
“If your family has a heavy meal at mid-day, have a light meal in the evening, or in reverse,” Ingebretson said. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and never drink and drive.
The holidays can offer lots more relaxing time, “but make the effort and find the time to get up and stay active,” Neal said. Focus on cardiovascular fitness, which burns calories, he said. If you don’t have time to spend at the gym, walk on the treadmill at home. If you don’t have a treadmill, take a walk outside – “particularly after a big meal," Ingebretson said.
4. Be mindful
Stay consistent with your workout and healthy eating habits as best you can – and cheat only when it counts most: during holiday meals or special get-togethers with friends. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are holi-"days." There’s no need to make this time a year a season of gluttony. "Even though there are temptations," Neal said, “keep those health goals in mind.” Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” added Ingebretson. “That’s a motivator, too. As a dietitian, I’m not the food police. I want you to feel better. If you feel better, it’s so worth it. It should make you want to eat better and keep being active.”
5. Get enough sleep
Adults should aim for at least seven or eight hours, children eight to 10. “That’s going to help with both your stress levels and your cravings,” Ingebretson said.