It’s here the holiday season. Let the parties begin! But, be cautious. Many people gain one to ten pounds over the holidays starting from Halloween or Thanksgiving through the end of year. What’s wrong with gaining weight? If you lose the weight in January, there is no reason to worry about the holiday ten, but if you keep those pounds on year after year, you may be increasing your risk for developing cancer. Why you may ask? Weight gain that leads to obesity or a large body size for your height is linked to thirteen types of cancer breast, gallbladder, colon, rectum, kidney, esophageal, and endometrial just to name a few. Here are some strategies that you can use to stop those pesky pounds from staying with you in 2016.
10: Veg out, by eating more vegetables. Fill half your plate with nutrient dense foods like veggie sticks, crudit , vegetable kabobs, roasted vegetables, and vegetables with low-fat dip. Vegetables are high in water and fiber. They have a high satiety factor and take time to chew and eat. Slowing down your eating speed can help you avoid those high-calorie pitfalls at holiday feasts. A one cup serving of vegetables carries only 25 calories as compared with 343 calories for 1 cup of eggnog.
9: Play without food. Plan a holiday event without food. Stroll in the local park, ice skate, visit the mall, pick out your Christmas tree at a tree farm, go see the lights, volunteer at a local clothing drive, sing carols, or watch a Holiday movie.
8: Eat what you like.Choose a smaller portion of what you like but do indulge in a holiday treat if it’s your favorite. Slowly relish the flavor, aroma and texture in the food. Why? Strict dieting during the holidays and avoiding favorite foods may trigger binging down the road. The key is to learn to stop eating when you are “satisfied” (a few bites before being “full”).
7: Grab a cup. Keep a cup in your hand at holiday parties of water or low-calorie beverage. Keeping a cup in your hands helps stop you from unconsciously grabbing high-calorie snacks. In other words, don’t go around empty handed.
6: Step away from the buffet. Buffets are overwhelming with unlimited servings of your seasonal favorites. Serve yourself a taste of what you want to eat then walk away from the buffet, preferably to a crowd of friends to keep you occupied with good conversation.
5: Get active. Aim for 60 minutes daily of activity to rev up your metabolism and improve your sense of well-being. Break your activity into 3 sessions if needed. For example, walk 15 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes mid-day on your lunch break, and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Add fun to your fitness! Play music, walk with a friend, or take a fitness class. Ask your healthcare team what physical activity is right for you.
4: Buffer your beverages. If you are having a rich beverage like egg nog or alcohol, buffer yourself against the high calories of those toddies by alternating drinks with a low-calorie beverages like water or light punch. Waters infused with fruits are also a great, tasty alternative to wine and mixed drinks. You may save 250+ calories for each 8 ounces of heavy beverages you avoid.
3: Focus on feelings. Identify why you feel lonely, tired, or overwhelmed. Don’t just feed those worrisome feelings. Make a plan to work through those feelings to get to a healthier place. If you are tired, go to bed earlier. Are you lonely? Call a friend. Feeling overwhelmed? Prioritize your time to make the holidays meaningful.
2: Set up for success. Make your health a top priority this year. Ensure holiday events have healthy choices for you. Bring a healthy dish for yourself. Let the host know if you have low-calorie needs. Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter (instead of candy). Brew flavorful teas for guests instead of heavy beverages. Recommend to your group a restaurant option that serves healthy dishes.
1: Make this year count. It’s really your friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues that make the holidays special. That’s what memories are all about. We don’t make meaningful relationships with food. What really matters is friends and family. So make this year count by making wonderful memories with people you love, not with food.
Reflect on which strategies will give you the most help during the holidays. Then select one strategy to start today. You can be healthier and energetic in the New Year while lowering your risk for cancer.