Jennifer Lindstrom, M.D., medical director of the Bariatric Surgery Center at Albany Med, said, “The holidays can create extraordinary challenges for many people trying to control their weight, however there are some relatively easy things people can do to enjoy the holidays without regrets about over-indulging.”
Dr. Lindstrom suggested starting the holidays with a plan. “While counting calories during this hectic season may be unrealistic for many people, everyone can base a holiday eating plan on overall smaller portions—about the size of a golf ball for many high-calorie dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and desserts.” At the same time, make vegetable portions larger because they are nutrient rich and help you feel full and satisfied, she said.
On days when a large dinner is planned, such as Thanksgiving, Dr. Lindstrom suggested eating lightly in the morning to balance out pie or other goodies.
Another tip: Dr. Lindstrom suggested stepping on the scales every day during the holiday season as a “reality check.” “It’s an effective way to see how your food choices are directly impacting your weight,” she said.
Sweets and alcohol actually increase appetite because they first stimulate a spike and then a dip in blood sugar, leading to a feeling of hunger within about two hours. To avoid constantly triggering the hunger response with between-meal sweets, Dr. Lindstrom suggested snacking on fresh fruit, nuts or cut-up veggies. To prevent swings in blood sugar levels caused by drinking alcohol, consume high-protein, high-fiber foods at the same time, she said.
Some further suggestions to avoid weight gain include:
• Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and juices that leave behind extra calories without signaling a feeling of fullness;
• Drink plenty of water or club soda at parties and family gatherings
• Watch out for high-carbohydrate foods which reinforce overeating (i.e. avoid the crackers on the cheese plate)
• Skip the dip
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