Eat, Drink and Be Healthy

To Control Your Weight During the Holidays, Consider These Tips

By Jennifer Huget
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You could be forgiven for going into the holiday season as if it were a military campaign: Beat the holiday battle of the bulge! Fight holiday weight gain! Win the war against holiday pounds! Survive the stress of the holidays! Those are the kinds of messages we hear.

I'm kind of a pacifist when it comes to both the holidays and managing weight: Neither should be painful or destructive, and both should, I think, be approached with a sense of humor and goodwill. But planning for a weight-control campaign at this time of the year has some merit. After all, come January, we want to be on the winning side, right?

So, now that you've survived the opening feast, let the real challenge begin!

Like Holiday Challenges past, this one has a simple goal: to maintain your weight between now and New Year's.

According to registered dietitian Christine Palumbo, a spokeswoman for Shady Brook Farms turkey products, most people gain a modest 1.06 pounds over the holidays. That doesn't sound like much. But most of us never shed that extra pound, so after 10 years we've gained almost 11 pounds.

Avoiding that single pound is the chief aim of this operation.

Now let's talk strategy, based on tips I've put together from Palumbo and Arthur Frank, medical director of the George Washington University Weight Management Program.

Devise a Battle Plan

Start by looking at your calendar and identifying all the parties, dinners, events at your kids' schools, cookie swaps, shopping trips and other places and occasions where you know you'll be challenged. Event by event, decide how you're going to meet those challenges.

· Before the office party, eat a snack (perhaps a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit) so you won't be ravenous when you get there, Palumbo suggests. Then hold yourself to just two glasses of wine, switching to sparkling water in between. Frank reminds us that "free food is not really free." It certainly costs calories.

· At the cookie swap, taste only the most delicious-looking treat and package all the rest to take home, where you'll repackage them in gift tins and split them among friends.

· At a dinner, Palumbo suggests, sit next to the person you believe will be the slowest eater. You'll find yourself mimicking that leisurely pace and better recognize when you're full. Frank adds, "Don't eat standing up," which prevents your paying proper attention to your food.

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