Are your waistbands a little tighter each year when January arrives? It’s not just your imagination. Studies
show that the average American gains between one and two pounds during the holiday season, and up to 14% of Americans gain five pounds or more. This fairly small gain tends to increase body fat percentage, which may partially explain why we often have the
illusion of a more significant increase around the holidays.
Holiday parties, rich holiday food, the cold weather keeping you indoors and holiday stress can all contribute to this seasonal weight gain. And, though the gain may be modest, for many it could stick around for the rest of the year.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution this year. Start your year off right with these simple tips from
Jeni Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, and enjoy the holiday season full of health and zero regrets:
Focus on maintenance not weight loss. Enjoy the holidays! If you start out trying to deny yourself the food that you enjoy, you’re likely to overindulge eventually. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays; try to maintain your weight.
The holidays can be stressful enough without the added pressure of a diet.
Have a healthy snack before you head out the door. Holiday parties are a great time to catch up with friends and family, but they aren’t the best place to find healthy snacks. When your favorite high-fat holiday fare is on offer, it’s not
easy to practice moderation, especially if you show up hungry. Eat a healthy snack before you hit the buffet line to avoid overindulging. If you don’t have time to eat beforehand, grab a small plate and ensure most of it is filled with healthy fruits and veggies.
Keep moving! The weather outside might be frightful, but don’t let that keep you from staying active during the holiday season. There are many outdoor activities that not only embrace the cold but are big calorie-burners for the entire family,
like ice-skating and cross-country skiing (no hills required). Make these family activities and you’ve started a new healthy holiday tradition. Keep it simple, layer up and go for a walk; take the stairs at work before your holiday days off instead of the
elevator; do your holiday shopping at the store instead of online.
Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. Seasonal fruits and veggies aren’t just a summer thing. Apples, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and pumpkin are all in season during the colder months of the year, and they
can be prepared in a multitude of healthy and delicious ways. Fill your plate and don’t regret it.
Make some small substitutions that make a big difference. Healthy substitutions can make a huge difference when it comes to calories and fat. Use lower-fat ingredients in your holiday cooking to create healthier versions of your favorite
holiday foods. Consider substituting skim milk for whole. In many baked goods, applesauce can replace oil. And the best thing about making these healthy substitutions is that, in terms of taste, you won’t notice a thing.
How to you maintain your weight during the holidays?
We often think that eating healthy means spending more money. You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice on flavor and
the foods you love when trying to eat on a budget. Saving some green in your pocket book can be as easy as becoming a better planner both at the grocery store and in the kitchen.
When you think about stretching your dollars with your food, remember that making smart choices is a small price to pay when it comes to your overall health and wellness.
Kimberly Hammon, registered dietitian at NorthShore, shares the following recommendations for maximizing nutritional value and minimizing costs:
What do you do to reduce your grocery bill? What cost-saving tips do you have?
Eating healthy and staying healthy is something that millions of Americans strive for every day. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy to eat healthy on a daily basis. With 36% of adults in U.S. considered obese, it's becoming more important for both adults
and children to start eating healthier. The experts from NorthShore University HealthSystem have provided some general guidelines for the recommended intake of each food group, suggestions for creating a healthy meal plan every day, as well as some healthy
Click on our
infographic for more ideas on creating a healthy meal plan with great healthy food substitutions.
It’s hard to avoid the temptation of having something sweet—whether it’s an after- dinner treat, a mid-afternoon snack or something you indulge in to reward yourself for a hard day’s work. Like most things, in moderation, sugar shouldn’t lead to any long-term
health concerns. However, when consumed in excess—both in its natural form and processed form—sugar can lead to some very serious health conditions.
Mary Bennett, RD, LDN, CDE, a diabetes educator at NorthShore, identifies some of the health concerns that excess sugar can lead to:
The American Heart Association has set a limit for consumer consumption of sugar, which includes:
How do you control your cravings for something sweet? What is your favorite alternative snack?
All of the holiday treats and temptations on the table can make for a difficult time managing your weight and portion control. While it’s okay to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make smart choices to help keep your plate balanced.
According to the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations, half of your plate should consist of fruit and vegetables, accompanied by grains, protein and dairy. You may find it hard to have this much balance on your plate during the holidays, but planning in advance
and thinking through your meal choices can be a huge help for keeping your plate (and waistline!) in check.
Goutham Rao, MD, gives his insight on how to plan your portions and still be able to enjoy the holidays:
What is your favorite holiday treat? What do you do to resist temptation and overeating?
With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard not to be tempted by flavorful sides, festive drinks and decadent desserts. For those with diabetes, the struggle to avoid some of these foods may be a challenge, especially with many planned family dinners
and holiday parties.
However, diabetics don’t have to completely deprive themselves from the traditional foods and meals that the season brings. Romy Block, MD, a NorthShore endocrinologist, gives the following tips for managing diabetes during the holidays:
It’s important to note that these tips shouldn’t just apply to the holidays. Managing your diabetes is a process and making small changes can really help to make a big difference.
What ways have you found success in managing diabetes during the holidays? What holiday foods are the hardest for you to avoid?
Many juices are advertised as being nutritious, and kids love juice, so parents happily provide it, believing it is a healthy choice. However, juice does not provide the same nutrition as a piece of whole fruit, and has been linked to obesity and tooth decay.
Juice should be given in moderation and should not be thought of as a substitute for healthier choices like whole fruit, milk or water.
If you choose to give your child juice, Sara Wiemer, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for maximizing its nutritional value:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following servings of juice:
With Halloween “creeping” up and followed closely by Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are a lot of treats to contend with.
Here are the strategies that seem to work best for my family: