FORT LEE, Va. -- Just like the 17 renditions of “Santa Baby” repeated on the radio and the appearance of photo-with-Saint-Nick booths at the mall, there is no escaping the onslaught of edible enticements during the holiday season.
From office parties to family events galore, this time of the year seems like one long food-fest designed to make you gain weight. With the right strategy and willpower, however, there are ways to beat the holiday bulge, according to nutrition experts at Kenner Army Health Clinic.
The following is what they suggest:
• Keep weight in check. Weigh yourself in the morning, at least once or twice a week, during the holidays. This should be enough to notice any slight increase from the week and to keep you in check for the weekend and vice-versa.
• Get up and at it 15-30 minutes earlier and do some exercise. Early morning workouts strengthen your resolve for the day and rev up metabolism. Remember – energy creates energy, physically and mentally.
• Be thrifty with your “calorie spending.” Peruse the buffet table and take only the foods you get to enjoy once a year. Eat what you love in moderation to stave off those cravings that get you in trouble later. Don’t waste calories on foods you can eat anytime.
• Avoid food-orexia: starving all day just to pig out at night. Eat lean protein and non-starchy vegetables throughout the day. It will prevent blood sugar from dipping and spiking and keep you full until the big event.
• Say “no” and mean it. Don’t let others lessen your resolve. For those “eating-encouragers,” have a few planned responses such as: “No, thank you, I am full” or “No, thank you, I’ve already enjoyed some of my favorite goodies.” Comment on the spread/decorations and party-planner’s efforts. Many times, compliments are what they want, not necessarily caring about what’s on your plate.
• Don’t ditch the workout. There’s a tendency to do so during the busy holiday season. Instead, bump up the intensity of a shorter session and look for comparable activities that are physically challenging like using the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the store to encourage walking. When in line, do calf raises or lift and lower your purse or shopping basket like a dumbbell weight. Get creative to avoid just standing in place scrolling thru phone messages.
• Practice the three-bite rule. If you can’t resist a favorite high-calorie item, only take enough for three small bites and savor each one. Any bites after that would taste the same and just add calories. Couples also can get one item and share it to reduce the amount consumed.
• Avoid hangover food. Don’t take leftovers home or send it with others. If family members insist, tell them to portion out what they want and put it in the freezer. Non-perishables? Keep them high in the cupboard behind the cornstarch. In moments of weakness, we generally go for what we see first. Out of sight, out of reach, out of mind.
• Keep healthy snacks readily available: Fresh fruit in a bowl, dried fruits and nuts in snack packs, veggies and fruits cut up in the fridge, packs of tuna/salmon, yogurt and low-fat cheese sticks. Many times, snacking is about quick-to-grab at first sight. Keep these healthy snacks on hand, in sight, as easy go-to options.
The Fort Lee Army Wellness Center offers programs in the following areas to help achieve health goals: health assessment reviews, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, stress management, general wellness education and tobacco education. Services are available to active duty military, retirees, active duty and retiree family members (age 18 and older), DOD Civilians, and Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers. Call 804-734-9925 to schedule an appointment or learn more about their services.