Although the holidays are a fun-filled, happy season, they are also associated with inevitable stress, parties, and copious amounts of cookies and candies. Many people fear added weight gain, but studies show that average American weight gain is only about 1 – 2 pounds during the holiday season. However, these added pounds are often difficult to lose, so an unwanted ten-pound weight gain can easily creep up over a decade. Beyond weight gain, holiday food is also typically high in fat, sodium, and sugar which further challenges those trying to manage chronic conditions with diet.
The simplest solution is to move more and eat less. However, the seasonal scenario makes this simple concept very hard to follow. Therefore, review some of the myths and facts below to help yourself approach the holidays with a smarter plan of action this year.
MYTHS & FACTS
MYTH: It is smart and effective to “save up calories” by eating very little before parties and events.
FACT: Typically, this strategy will have one entering the party with extreme hunger and lead to overeating. Instead, try to eat at least two small, healthy meals before evening events to evenly distribute calories throughout the day or eat a light, high fiber snack before you arrive like an apple or banana.
MYTH: The party or event will offer a healthy option.
FACT: Depending on the type of event, bring your own healthy appetizer or dish to ensure there is at least one healthy option.
MYTH: Sample every holiday dish or cookie because this is the only time of year they are available.
FACT: You can still have some of your favorite foods but be attentive to which traditional foods you enjoy. Be selective and do not eat something just because it is tradition. Also, acknowledge your frequency of indulgence and understand that goodies come around all year long and not just during the holiday season.
MYTH: Drinking one cocktail will not make a difference.
FACT: This is partially false depending on the type of beverage chosen. Having one fruity cocktail at each of the three parties you attended in a week could add on additional 600 calories per week just from beverages. Try choosing cocktails that use mixers lower in sugar, such as using sugar-free sodas or flavored seltzer with a squeeze of citrus fruit. If you are trying to eliminate alcohol calories altogether, ordering a plain seltzer with citrus fruit will still maintain your social presence.
MYTH: You can work off any excess calories consumed at parties or holiday dinners.
FACT: Exercising is extremely important to avoiding weight gain and should be prioritized especially during the holiday season for stress relief and overall health, but it is false to think that you can exercise off over-indulgence. That one holiday meal likely provided over 1000 calories, and one hour of walking only burns off 250 calories.
POMEGRANATE PISTACHIO GUACAMOLE
Guacamole gets dressed-up for the holiday season! This heart healthy appetizer is made with good-for-you fats from avocados and pistachios and the pomegranate seeds add a splash of red color and additional key nutrients to keep you healthy during the busy holiday season.
Serving Size: 1/3 Cup | Yield: 6 Servings | Method: Chop & Mix
- 2 medium Ripe avocados
- 1/3 cup Red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tbs Lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup Pistachios, shelled and crushed (for topping) Plantain chips and/or assorted vegetables (for serving)
- Halve and pit the avocados then scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.
- Add the red onion, cilantro, lime juice and pepper to the bowl, mashing the mixture together with two forks until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Stir in most of the pomegranate seeds, leaving out about 15 arils.
- Top with the few remaining arils and sprinkle on crushed pistachios
- Serve the guacamole with plantain chips or assorted vegetables.
Produced by: Elior North America
Sources: The Holiday Weight Gain is Real and Persistent. American College of Preventative Medicine. https://www.acpm.org/page/holidayweightgain Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O’Neil PM, Sebring NG. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. 2000;342(12):861-7