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’Tis the Season to Live Healthy and Thrive

December 26, 2013



Couple laughing dressed in winter clothes

From eggnog and stuffing to tamales and pie, holiday fare offers plenty of temptation. Americans gain nearly half of the weight they will gain all year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to a 2000 study, and losing those pounds can be an uphill battle.

While the holidays are not a great time to start a diet, you can take steps to avoid putting on extra pounds  We asked Keith Bachman, MD, physician lead for obesity treatment and prevention at Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute, to share some strategies.

Q. How can you avoid temptation when your house is full of holiday treats?

A. Stock up on healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and grab-and-go snacks such as cherry tomatoes and baby carrots. Sparkling water is another great thing to have around.

Try to limit snacking. Eat regular meals, and when you do have a snack, put it on a plate. You’ll eat less this way — especially if you’re tempted to grab a cookie every time you walk through the kitchen.

Make agreements with your coworkers about what types of holiday treats you will and won’t bring into the office. That way, you can support each other in your efforts to eat healthy.

Q. What are some strategies for eating healthy at holiday parties?

A. Eat something healthy before you get to the party, so you don’t arrive feeling hungry. If it’s a buffet, start by filling at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruit.

Limit your alcohol consumption. Liquid calories don’t make you feel as full as solid food. And because alcohol tends to increase your appetite, you’re more likely to overeat or eat foods you’d usually avoid. Instead of alcohol, try substituting sparkling water with a little fruit juice or alternating between water and alcoholic drinks.

Q. How can you host a healthy holiday gathering?

A. Host a gathering that’s focused on an activity, such as caroling, a winter hike, or mall walking. Another option is a healthy potluck, where you ask each guest to bring a vegetable side dish or an ingredient for a collective salad.

If you’re hosting a traditional meal, be sure to include lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, and get creative with presentation to make those dishes especially appealing. Make gravy using chicken broth instead of fat drippings and serve small slices of pie.

Be sure to offer alternatives to alcoholic drinks. Adding a little juice or fruit to sparkling water is a great way to make a drink that’s festive but low in calories.

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