Drink and be merry? Minimize holiday pitfalls

The holiday season brings about many emotions and is a time for heightened stress, emotional eating binges, and seemingly inevitable weight gain. The pressure to please, managing schedules, shopping, and travel are all too demanding. The simple answer to prevent this outcome is to follow a controlled diet, exercise most days, and remain active. Though, this is not as simple in implementation as it is in theory.

Studies have shown that most individuals will gain 2-4 pounds during the holidays. Further and more lasting and detrimental, individuals rarely loose the weight they’ve gained.  Ten years later – do you wonder where the 20-40 additional pounds came from?

The best way to keep excess weight off is to avoid gaining the weight in the first place. Simple, right? Since caloric and hormonal imbalances are the primary causes for weight gain, it makes sense to address these issues. Reducing caloric intake and committing to a weekly workout and relaxation routine can breed a healthy holiday season.

Avoid the common pitfalls that affect us all during the holiday period. How much weight gain is attributed to beverage and alcoholic intake? Eggnog, wine, or champagne? The simple answer: enjoy, but don’t drink in access! How many cookies are eaten in the absence of hunger? How much butter or cream is consumed? Below are some suggestions as well as some dietary exchanges. Don’t let the holidays make a dent in your overall health and fitness.

Holiday weight management strategies:

  • Serve healthy appetizers like raw fruits and vegetables with low-calorie dips.
  • Serve meals on smaller dishes so that portion control is better managed.
  • Do not sit or stand close to the hors d’oeuvre tray or the bowl of mixed nuts – location and boredom eating can add significant calories.
  • Consider the following substitutions:

Exchange Recommendations

Recipe Substitute
1 Whole Egg 2 Egg Whites
Sour Cream Low fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream
Milk Skim or 1%
Oil for baking products use apple sauce
Ice Cream Frozen Yogurt
Heavy Cream 2 Tablespoons flour whisked into 2 cups skim milk
Whipped Cream Chilled evaporated skim milk or low fat whipped products
Cheese Low fat cheese
Egg Nog Low fat egg nog or four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
Beer, Cider, Bailey’s & Kahlua Dry wine, Bloody Marys or spirits with diet mixer
Wine Mix ½ wine and ½ seltzer
Roasted Turkey Breast Remove the turkey skin
Green Bean Caserole Fresh Green Beans w/ chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings
Mashed Potato whole milk/butter Use Skim milk, chicken broth, garlic
Pumpkin Pie Crustless, use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream
Turkey Gravy Cranberry Sauce with a sugar substitue
Cheesecake Angel Food cake with fresh fruit
Stuffing Replace half the meat with dried fruits
Cranberry sauce Rinse the jelly off canned cranberries and sweeten with honey/citrus
Dark Turkey Meat White Turkey Meat
Creamy dip Hummus, low fat/fat-free sour cream, and yogurts
Pasta salads Use whole grain pasta and cut vegetables



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