Lakeland Regional Health



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Supervisor, Clinical Nutrition Services
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Friday, November 22 2013

Proactive Measures to Prevent Unwanted Holiday Weight Gain


With the holiday season and celebrations approaching, our focus on healthy meal and/or snack choices is important in order to prevent unwanted weight gain. Studies show that most people don’t lose the extra weight they put on during the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s). The following tips are offered to help cut calories during this upcoming season.

  1. Never arrive hungry – Have a nutritious snack before arriving at a party and if you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
  2. Be in charge of your party choices – Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to register a “full” sensation and signal the brain that it’s had enough.

    Appetizers:  Use a small plate and stick with vegetables and fruits, but avoid the creamy dips, restrict your intake of buttery crackers, chips, cheese and meats, and never go back for seconds

    Dinner:  Go for the simplest foods on the buffet (fresh fruits and vegetables, shrimp cocktail). Fill half your plate with salad and vegetables, one quarter with meat and the final quarter with starch. Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings. For salads, use oil and vinegar, vinaigrette or low-fat dressings.

    Desserts:   Be selective and limit your indulgences to small portions. The best choices are fruit, Jell-O, pudding, shortbread cookies, gingersnaps or angel food cake. If you must have a dessert with frosting, cream cheese or chocolate chips, limit to one small cookie or one thin slice of cake.

    Drinks:  Restrict alcohol to one or two servings. Instead of high-fat eggnog, have a light beer or wine. After that, stick with calorie-free drinks (water, unsweetened ice tea, hot tea or coffee).

Save Calories with Food Changes

Instead of: Change to: Save:
chips & dips veggies & salsa 185 calories
sweet potato casserole baked sweet potato 200 calories
chicken wings shrimp cocktail 300 calories
pecan pie pumpkin pie 200 calories

Recipe Ingredient Substitutions to Cut Calories

Instead of: Use:
whole milk dairy fat-free or low-fat dairy
eggs 2 egg whites
nuts half required amount
heavy cream equal parts half-and-half and fat-free evaporated milk
whipping cream fat-free whipped topping or evaporated skim milk (chilled)
coconut half amount required
traditional pie crust graham cracker crust

The best way to avoid gaining weight over the holidays is to eat in moderation, keep a consistent exercise program and implement the calorie cutting tips.

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