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'Tis the Season How to Keep Off the Lbs!

  December 09, 2019

Submitted by Merit Health Wesley

The holiday season is a joyful time of year to celebrate with friends and family. But with the celebrations come lots of party foods at holiday gatherings. If you’re trying to eat healthy, lose weight, or maintain your weight, those holiday goodies can be awfully tempting.

Here are some simple strategies to maintain a healthy and balanced diet through the holiday season. By planning ahead and sticking to your resolve, you can follow a healthy diet and still be part of the celebrations.

1. Eat regularly. Holidays are busy, which can disrupt our healthy eating plan. Grabbing meals on the run while shopping or grazing the buffet at social events only encourages you to eat unhealthy or more than usual. If you must skip a meal or eat at an abnormal time, keep healthy snacks nearby, such as oatmeal, almonds, fruit, or string cheese.

2. Get your sleep.
Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and stress. Aim for at least 7 hours of shut eye in order to keep your stress and hormone levels in check.

3. Prep yourself before the party. Don’t skip a meal or arrive to a party hungry. Skipping meals can make you cranky, tired, and may even cause a headache. Plus, when you are hungry and surrounded by high-calorie foods, it’s easy to overeat. Always eat a light, healthy snack, preferably with high fiber, before leaving your house. Fiber helps you feel full, so you might not eat so much at the party. Choose foods like crunchy vegetables, a salad, a piece fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal.

4. Make smart choices at the buffet or dinner table. Being health conscious doesn’t mean that you can't enjoy the season and have a little bit of the foods you love.
  • Rather than depriving yourself of a certain item, eat small amounts—say, two to three bites—of the foods you can’t resist. Try to just have one small cookie, or two chips with dip. Just make sure to fill the majority of your plate with healthy vegetables and fruits, whole grain crackers, cheese, and lean meats.
  • Eat slowly and chew each bite thoroughly. It takes a few minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is getting full. Put your fork down between bites and sip some water.
  • Limit rich, sugary foods. They have a way of making you crave more of the same. If the craving hits you, try a piece of fruit or a small bit of dark chocolate. If that doesn’t help, simply take half of a serving of that chocolate or pecan pie you can’t resist.
5. Those sneaky beverages. Avoid beverages high in sugar and calories, or at least limit your intake to a single drink. Try consuming water with a lemon or lime, or diet/sugar-free beverages. Or have a glass or two of water before you start drinking alcoholic beverages, and have one in between drinks, to slow your alcohol consumption.

6. Remain active. Regular physical activity is even more important during the holiday season. Physical activity reduces stress—which usually comes with the holidays—and gives us more energy. If you know you will indulge a bit, increase your exercise time a bit every day. You'll burn off those holiday indulgences and avoid extra weight gain. Remember, if you increase your exercise, that splurge won’t ruin you.

7. Drink lots of water.
Adequate water intake keeps your metabolism humming along at a maximum rate and staves off hunger cravings as well. Mild dehydration can mimic hunger. The best way to avoid becoming dehydrated—and that hungry sensation and excess pounds—is to drink plenty of water.

It's difficult to avoid overeating during the holidays. If you do slip up, don't be too hard on yourself. Be sure to exercise the next day and make sure your next meal or snack is a healthy one. By taking a few precautions, you can enjoy the holidays without overdoing it and gaining extra pounds.

Merit Health Wesley offers free seminars to help you determine if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery. Seminars are free, one-hour sessions hosted by our bariatric surgery team. Topics covered include lifestyle changes, lifetime commitment and follow-up care, risks and benefits, support group, and surgical options. Merit Health Wellness Center offers a variety of facilities and services that give you more options for better health. From yoga to high-intensity interval training, the Wellness Center has what you need to achieve your fitness goals.

To learn more about these seminars and the services offered at the Wellness Center, please visit

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information to facilitate conversations with their physician. Back to Top

December 09, 2019


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