Holiday Dieting Awareness

The holiday season is in full swing here in Graham and many will be attending parties and dinners all month long. With that in mind, we wanted to remind everyone that even though some may be tempted to let healthy eating habits slide, now is actually the perfect time to focus on good eating habits.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), developing ways to avoid holiday weight gain may be extremely important for preventing obesity and diseases associated with it.

Researchers found that although the average American gains about a pound during the holidays, subjects in their study who were overweight or obese were more likely to gain approximately five pounds compared to those who were not overweight.

“Although an average holiday weight gain of less than a pound may seem unimportant, that weight was not lost over the remainder of the year,” said Jack A. Yanovski, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and head of NICHD’s Unit on Growth and Obesity.

When 165 of the study volunteers were weighed a year after the study began, they had not lost the extra weight gained during the holidays, and ended the year 1.5 pounds heavier than they were the year prior.

Contrary to many popular beliefs, people do not experience large weight gains during the holidays. Unfortunately, the little weight that is gained over the period is not lost the rest of the year—potentially posing various health risks. That is where the real problem lies.

Increased physical activity during the holidays is definitely a measure one can take to combat weight gain. Along with increased physical activities, monitoring the foods consumed is critical in maintaining a healthy status.

Below are some cooking tips you should keep in mind while preparing and eating foods this holiday season:

  • Choose appetizers that help get your daily serving of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Remember that cheeses are loaded with fat. Try to avoid cheese balls unless you know it is made with low fat ingredients.
  • Use skim, low or no fat milk and other dairy products in your recipes.
  • Salads are a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meal. Salsa and chutneys are a great alternative to salad dressings, which can be high in sodium and fat.
  • Prepare the giblet gravy ahead of time, put it in the refrigerator for an hour, spoon off the congealed fat, then reheat and serve.
  • Try cutting back the sugar in recipes, even in cakes, by adding more vanilla flavoring.
  • Consider wine in lieu of cocktails, since mixed drinks can contain high amounts of calories and sugar.
  • As a general rule, white meat is leaner than dark meat. Choose the turkey breast over drumstick whenever possible.
  • Cook meats on a rack so fat can drip away.
  • Cold water fish can be an excellent, healthy alternative to your holiday meal. Tuna and salmon contain fatty acids that promote good heart health.

For more information and dieting tips for a healthier holiday, please contact Graham Regional Medical Center at 940-549-3400.

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