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Moderating Holiday Calories

Photo by: Aubrey (Flickr)

As nurses, people turn to us for advice on a number of healthcare issues, and one of the most common problems people face is how to maintain a healthy weight. The issue of avoiding weight gain is particularly prevalent during the Holiday season, when goodies and alcohol flow in excess. ‘Tis the season for candy, cookies, cakes, pies, parties, champagne, and some delicious traditional food; we all fall victim to the holiday bulge.

The saying “everything in moderation” could not be truer than during the holiday season. You don't have to turn your nose up to every holiday treat; you just shouldn't enjoy all of it. If you moderate your holiday calories and sugar intake, you can enjoy the many pleasures the season has to offer without having to make that New Year's resolution to lose the five pounds you gained. It really isn't as hard as it may seem. You just need to exercise, and exercise a little will power.

You are going to intake additional calories over the holidays; there is no way to avoid it. So, increase your activity level to compensate for the additional fuel. Limit your holiday treats to one a day, and if that treat is a piece of cake or pie, make it a small one. Avoid excess alcohol consumption during your holiday festivities. This not only saves you calories, and the sugar alcohol converts into in your body, it also saves you the nasty side effects of alcohol poisoning.

Looking forward to your traditional fat-riddled Christmas meal? Forget it, and opt for healthier versions of your favorite holiday recipes. You see, you shouldn't just take into consideration additional holiday calories, you need to think about holiday fat, carbohydrates, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol, and maintaining optimal levels of all for your nutritional needs. Cook your holiday meal with healthier ingredients and seasonings and still have a wonderful feast anyone would envy.

Another thing to consider is just saying “no… thank you!” If you really cannot control your ability to limit the amount of holiday cookies you eat in one sitting, decline the gift altogether. Anyone should be supportive of someone wanting to watch their holiday weight gain. A simple, “I love your goodies so much, but I cannot seem to limit myself once I start eating them! Would you be so kind as to not send me goodies this year?” should be met positively. If not, move on!

Finally, attention all nurses reading this: We are not only asked about how to maintain a healthy weight, but we have an example to set, as well. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a nurse admonishing a patient for eating junk food and then snacking on a candy bar. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our patients to practice what we preach and maintain our holiday weight, too!

Holiday Weight Gain Facts and Studies

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Healthy Holiday Recipes

  • Tips for Healthy Holiday Cooking - University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a detailed list of healthy substitutions for your traditional salt and fat-laden holiday fare.
  • Healthy Holiday Cooking Tips - Iowa State University breaks down healthy holiday fare by category, including healthy appetizer and dessert choices, in a convenient PDF file for viewing.
  • Healthy Holiday Recipes - Edinboro University lists 22-pages worth of healthy holiday eating and recipes in this PDF file.
  • Healthy Holiday Eating Tips and Recipes - Utah State University also provides plenty of healthy recipes to try this holiday season at this PDF file link.
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