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November 15, 2010

How to Avoid Dietary Disaster during the Holidays

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Halloween has come and gone, and we're well into the holiday season.  You know what that means: overindulgence that usually lasts until New Year's Day. 

The news isn't all that bad.  Contrary to what you may have heard, research suggests that Americans gain an average of just more than a pound during the holidays.  The problem comes when you don't lose the weight you put on every year during November and December, and add more during the remainder of the winter. 

It is possible to make it to January 1 without gaining weight and feeling run down. Here's how you can avoid dietary disaster and boost your energy level during the hectic holiday season.

Make time for yourself. You've got a lot on you're to-do list, with all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, and cleaning, but consider making the time to relax and sleep high priority.  When you're energetic, it's easier to get things done, and you're more likely to eat healthier foods, too.

Keep a journal.  Write down everything you eat and drink.  Keeping tabs on your eating makes weight control easier. It's especially important to keep a food diary during the holiday season because knowing that you need to write down every nibble may deter you from eating extra calories.

Splurge sensibly.  'Tis the season for holiday favorites, such as Hood EggNog , so enjoy! Instead of gorging on stuffing, gravy, cookies, candy, and pie, however, be a discriminating diner.  Fill up on lower-calorie foods and take small portions of the one or two high-calorie foods you absolutely must have - the first few bites are the most enjoyable, anyway. 

Bust a move.  Can't get to the gym? No worries.  Find ways to move around more to counteract holiday indulgences, reduce stress, and boost energy levels.  For example, park as far away as possible from the store; take the stairs and avoid the elevator and escalator at work and at the mall; take grocery bags in from the car one at a time; and take the laundry upstairs in small batches.  Every little bit of physical activity adds up!

Protein-load. Include low-fat protein foods, such as Hood Milk , Simply Smart Milk  and Hood Cottage Cheese  at every meal and snack.  Protein keeps you fuller for longer, so you'll be less likely to overdo it on other, higher-calorie holiday foods.     

Give goodies the deep freeze. Don't leave cookies and candy on the counter. Freezing them for later keeps them out of sight, and hopefully, out of mind. 

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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