Tips to Stay Lean and *not so* Mean During the Holidays

The holiday season is here! Parties and gatherings complete with cocktails and trays of appetizers will fill our calendars. Additionally, being active can be more challenging when the weather is cold and snow and ice are on the ground. Many people will gain weight over the winter months, although the exact amount is disputed. What is not disputed is that most people will not lose the weight they gain during the holiday season according to a report from The New England Journal of Medicine. We all know that excessive weight can predispose you to a host of chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

But, there is good news. Holiday weight gain can be prevented. It just takes some planning, and a commitment to your health. Here are some simple suggestions to avoid weight gain when faced with a calendar full of holiday parties:

· Eat before you go. Consume a healthy meal packed with colorful vegetables, whole grains and 25-30

grams (3-4 ounces) of lean protein before heading to a party. Consuming 3-4 ounces of high-quality lean protein at regular meals has been shown to reduce hunger and cravings, while helping maintain lean body mass. In addition, you will feel satisfied, and won’t be as tempted to over-indulge in all the party treats.

· Drink plenty of water. Individual water needs vary depending on activity level, health status and the climate you live in. A good rule of thumb is eight, 8 oz. glasses per day. Water plays a vital role in nearly all your body’s functions. Additionally, drinking an adequate amount of water daily helps to improve satiety, or your body’s feeling of fullness, and can help regulate overeating.

· Limit yourself to 1-2 cocktails. Cocktails contain extra calories your body does not need, especially the

ones containing sugary cocktail mixes popular this time of year. Plus, we all know the feeling, after a few

cocktails, your resolve to stay away from less healthy party treats can wane, making it easier to give in to

cravings.

· Say no to sugary treats. This one is a no-brainer. Sugary sweets are often also filled with fat. Excess

sugar, fat and calories contribute to weight gain. If there are treats you can’t live without, cut them into bite-

sized portions, and enjoy a small portion, leaving the rest for others to enjoy.

· Bring a healthy dish to share. This is a tactic I employ at every gathering I attend. In addition to sharing the

gift of healthy food with others, I can always feel good about enjoying a few bites of a healthy, fresh,

nutritious dish.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!