Managing Your Weight Over the Holidays
Article contributed by Jackie See, Registered Dietitian
Whether you are trying to gain weight or keep from gaining, here are some tips to help you achieve your goals over the holidays.
If you need to gain weight
If you want to gain weight, the holidays are a great opportunity. However, if you are undergoing treatment or recovering from surgery, you may experience a loss of appetite, taste changes or other effects that may make it difficult to eat.
If you fill up quickly, eat smaller meals and save the dessert for in between.
If sweets are unappealing, snack on cheese, nuts, crackers with dip, hummus, deviled eggs and other savory snacks. Or try less intense sweets such as dark chocolate, pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce.
Take advantage of the higher calorie foods the season brings. Although sugar does not feed cancer, as is widely believed, no one should over indulge on sugar. So, eat those traditional cookies and candies in moderation.
Swap out some of your usual nutrition drinks for other nutritious beverages such as egg-nog, apple cider or hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows)!
Indulge but don’t overindulge
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), being overweight is responsible for 13 different cancers and may also contribute to cancer recurrence. So, it is wise to try to prevent weight gain during the holidays and then resume your weight loss efforts after the holidays.
Fasting may be a popular trend, but don’t try to do it before a feast because you will be ravenous and more likely to over eat. In fact, it may even be helpful to eat a snack before you go so you don’t arrive hungry. Have some yogurt, fruit, a few nuts or a piece of cheese.
Eat from a plate rather than out of your hand.
Pick the smaller plate if you have a choice.
Scan all of the options on the buffet table before you start filling your plate. Choose the foods you really like and can only get this time of year. Don’t waste your calories on ordinary foods that don’t have a special significance.
Seek out the lower calorie choices such as turkey or other lean meats, fruits, vegetables, salads, non-creamy soups and shrimp cocktail. Take larger servings of these foods.
If you are a guest, offer to bring a dish and make it something healthy. Everyone loves raw vegetables with dip or a fresh fruit plate.
Eat slowly and savor every bite. You will get more enjoyment out of the food. Also, if you finish before other guests, you may be tempted to go back for seconds.
Be wary of food pushers and tell a white lie if you half to – I’m stuffed and couldn’t eat another thing. I will have some later.
Alcohol - there is no safe level.
The holiday season also brings more opportunities to celebrate with alcohol. While one drink per day for women and two for men has been shown to have some benefit on heart disease prevention, even one drink per day has been associated with an increased risk of some cancers. So, if you must drink do not exceed these amounts. Try some non-alcoholic drinks instead, such as sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice, a non-alcoholic spritzer, non-alcoholic punch, a virgin mary, or tomato or V8 juice.
Exercise has many benefits
Sometimes exercise can get crowded out by all the other activities this time of year. But staying active has multiple benefits. Exercise is important for everyone including those on treatment and longer-term survivors. Exercise is the best way to counteract fatigue in patients undergoing treatment. It can help prevent unwanted weight gain over the holidays, may help prevent cancer recurrence and can help manage stress.
If you do not have time to go to the gym, stay active by going for short walks, shopping, skating, wrapping gifts, decorating and other fun holiday activities. Every form of movement helps.
Stay motivated with your online peers in the Healthy Living group on Connect.