How to Lose Weight During the Holidays

How to lose weight during the holidaysby Carolyn Bell, RDN, CSSD

In order to lose weight, you will need to learn how many calories to eat a day for weight loss. Most individuals need to lower their calorie intake to achieve weight loss. Reduce portion sizes by eating half of the amount of food you are used to eating to lose weight. This way you can continue to enjoy food, but take in less calories by eating smaller portions.

Secondly, make half your plate fruits and vegetables. This not only makes a healthier plate, but these foods are high in fiber which help you feel full. Also, choose whole grain starches for this same reason. Whole grain starches such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, pastas and tortillas are higher in fiber and make excellent side dishes when served in small portions.

During the holidays, there are often more opportunities to eat foods higher in calories. Such as cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies and sugary or alcoholic drinks. Just by adding one brownie and one alcoholic beverage to your diet at a social event, you are increasing your calorie intake by almost 500 calories, and it only takes 3500 calories to gain one pound of body fat. Visualize just a few cookies, one brownie, a handful of chips and nuts, a few bites of cheese and a few alcoholic beverages, and you are up to just about enough calories to gain one pound of fat! By attending more than one social event this month, it is easy to see why the average holiday weight gain is approximately 7 pounds. Replace alcoholic beverages with sparkling water or other “mocktails” available during the holiday season.

Exercise will also help keep your weight loss program on track. If you burn 500 calories a day from exercise, perhaps you can allow yourself a small treat during social gatherings. Plan these calories in advance so you don’t exceed the amount of calories burned from exercise. Also, never skip meals so you can eat more calories later in the day. This doesn’t work. Your body’s metabolism requires calories throughout the day and skipping meals will only create a sluggish metabolism. Learn your calories, eat smaller portions, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, choose lower calorie alcoholic beverages (or skip), plan your party foods in advance, increase your water intake, and don’t forget to exercise regularly to help avoid holiday weight gain.