Get the skinny on holiday weight gain

Get the skinny on holiday
weight gain
Elena L Serrano, PhD, Assoc. Professor/Extension Specialist
Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise
Virginia Tech
• Weight gain and maintenance over the holidays
• Tips for a happy, healthy, weight-gain free holiday
• Q&A
From Candy to Christmas…
A Cornucopia of Food
More time pressures,
colder weather
• Less exercise
More eating occasions - parties,
gatherings, celebrations
Cookie exchanges
• More high calorie, high fat foods
and beverages
Weight gain may be an unwanted consequence…foodborne
illness too
A high risk situation
• Yanovski et al. (2000) reported that healthy weight individuals gain
an average of 0.9 pounds, overweight individuals an average of 5
• Change in weight and body composition was assessed over a sixweek holiday period among 13 men and 21 women ranging in
age from 23-61 years. Most ‘thought’ they gained weight, but
there was no difference between pre-holiday weight and post-holiday
weight or body fat percentage (Wagner, & co-workers, 2012)
• In another study, 65% of men and 58% of women gained ≥1.2
pounds and 50% of both gained ≥1% of preholiday body weight
(Cook & co-workers, 2012)
Fact or Fiction?
• Past research indicates that holiday weight gain may
explain 51% of annual weight gain
So, why is holiday weight
gain a concern?
• People who continued to:
• Pay attention to weight and eating
• Exhibit great stimulus control, including dietary restraint
• Exercise
People who plan ahead and stick with the plan
Who is less likely to gain
weight over the holidays?
• Whether it be a formal written plan or a mental plan,
consider which of these strategies you will embrace
Make a plan for yourself
The holidays are not a realistic time to try to lose weight
• Many of our favorite holiday memories surround food
1. Try to maintain your weight
• Eat a snack beforehand
• Drink several glasses of water before you go to a party
2. Don’t go to a party when you’re
3. Don’t skip meals
Filling up on healthy foods will help reduce your temptation
to eat more than you need, especially unhealthy foods
• Leafy green salads
• Vegetable dishes
• Raw vegetables, like baby carrots
• Fruit
• Lean meats or beans
4. Place the healthiest options on
your plate and eat those first
Scan the options and decide what you will and won’t take before
you get to the table
• Hot artichoke dip – usually made with mayonnaise
• Caramel corn – replace with popcorn
• Potato latkes – consider baked, not fried
• Mashed potatoes– choose mashed cauliflower or replace whole
milk and butter with low-fat milk and chicken broth
• Sweet potato casserole – roast sweet potatoes instead of dishes
requiring butter , marshmallows
• Pecan pie – substitute nuts
• Eggnog – typically made with cream; choose low-fat
5. Select only small samples of highcalorie, high-fat foods and beverages
• Supertracker
• Daily Food Plans
• Calories from Physical
• Empty Calories
• Solid Fats
Check out
• Fruit salad
• Vegetable tray
6. Offer to bring something that you
like that is healthy
Reduce temptations
• Sit far away from the buffet table
• Stand away from the munchies – at least an arm’s length
away, preferably in another room
• Remove candy bowls from common areas – kitchen
counter, desk – so you don’t see them
• Sit next to a healthy eater
• If you feel like you need something in your hand, hold a
glass of water
• Chew gum
7. Put yourself out of harm’s
In place of cookies, suggest exchanging healthy(ier) food gifts
Homemade soup mixes
Fruit or pre-made fruit kabobs
Fancy coffee
Flavored cooking oils and vinegar
Spiced nuts
Homemade trail mix with dried fruit
Plan physical activities as part of family celebrations, such as
group walks
8. Start new traditions
• Aim for at least 30 minutes of (moderate) physical activity
each day
• If you have a hard time limiting rich, holiday foods, try to
compensate by exercising more
9. Maintain exercise
Tell your partner, spouse, and friends what your goals are
and ask them to support you by
• Helping prepare healthy meals, snacks
• Providing encouragement
9. Ask for Help
Thank you

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