The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for weight gain. The average American gains five pounds or more between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, over time this weight is rarely lost. Exercise helps us to avoid weight gain or to maintain our weight. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommends that we engage in 30 minutes of exercise or more at least five days per week. However, 60 to 90 minutes per day of vigorous activity is advised in order to lose weight. Monitor, plan, and make decisions based on the diet and exercise goals that YOU wish to achieve. Remember, the higher the activity level, the more calories we require. In addition, as we age our caloric needs become less than that of younger individuals even with regular exercise.
💦 Hydration. Water is essential to good health. However, needs vary by individual. How much water should you drink each day? Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are, and where you live. Humans have a poor thirst mechanism. Most of the time we go searching for food thinking that we are hungry, when we are really thirsty. We do not actually get thirsty until a percentage of our body is already dehydrated. Drinking water can help to control hunger during the day, prevent constipation, protect organs and tissues, lubricate joints, transport nutrients in the body, and more. Lack of water even causes you to feel tired and have no energy.
What about eating right during the holidays?
🍎 Harvard Health and the AND make similar suggestions about eating right during the holidays:
- Have a small snack to hold you over until mealtime. Carrots and peanut butter are a good example of a filling and healthy snack.
- Keep moving. Go for a walk or play in the snow with your loved ones.
- Try swapping out some of your favorite ingredients for healthier alternatives to save calories and fat.
- Have small servings of each food.
- Eat proteins and vegetables first.
- Eat slowly, appreciate the taste of what you are eating.
- Most of all enjoy the company and be social. Both numbers five and six allow your brain to register that you are becoming full and are no longer hungry. It’s called mindful or intuitive eating.
By: Allison Hardy, MS, NTR, Dietetic Intern