News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Health & Fitness

December 3, 2013

Steps for healthy eating during holidays

TERRE HAUTE — Typically, we gain about 1 pound during the six weeks of the holiday season.

Research shows that weight gain during this time makes up most of our weight gain during the year. Overweight individuals gain an average of 5 pounds. Adding these pounds year after year leads an overweight person to obesity. Obesity is a perfect setup for insulin resistance that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Here are 10 tips for eating healthier.

1. Eat before you go.

Going to a holiday party hungry leads to an overindulgence of food and frivolous intake of calories, fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. Instead, eat a light meal before you go so that you are not so tempted in devouring those high-fat, high-sugar treats.  2. Remember, it’s just a meal and your plate should look like any other meal.

Whatever you eat, whether at home or in a social setting, one must not forget the basic rule. You are eating for nourishment, not for hobby. Stick to simple guidelines. Eat veggies and fruits first, drink water, not liquid calories. Go light on snack items with high-salt, fat and calories. Choose items sensibly to reflect nutritional needs: whole grain carbs, fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and dairy.

3. Control portion sizes.

Portion control is the key to prevent going overboard on guilt foods. Enjoy a treat like it is one, and do not overindulge. Most people know what is good for them; however the temptation and the culture of over sizing our portions can ruin all the hard work and discipline displayed during the year.

4. Don’t skip meals.

Skipping meals is a set-up of overeating.

5. Re-create some of your favorite recipes.

If you are the host, you have the ability to steward yourself and your guests to a guilt-free eating event. Most recipes that you are preparing have creative alternates to neutralize calories, sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and sugar. So re-create your recipes with healthy alternatives first in a small batch; taste them for the desirable endpoint; and serve them to your guests proudly.

6. Try bite-size portions.

Holiday parties become a forum to present an endless array of treats. We often get tempted to try all these items or are afraid to say no to the host. A smart way to get around this is to fill your plate with bite-size samplers.

7. Don’t drink excess calories.

Alcoholic beverages are notoriously high in calories. Drinks are quickly absorbed. If the sugar and fat calories are not reconciled by physical activity measures, these go straight to the liver to be made into new fats that are the source of new pounds. Drink a glass of water between other beverages.

8. Focus on friends and family, not the food.

Spend quality time socializing and take the focus away from food. The reason you go to a gathering is to meet and connect with people.

9. Avoid excess fat and sugar.

Excess fat (fat and oil) and sugar will provide calories your body doesn’t need. These calories will be converted to triglycerides that will be stored in adipose tissue. Excess adipose tissue leads to adiposity which ultimately makes a person obese. If a person’s Body Mass Index is greater than 30, the person is obese.

10. Remember to exercise.

The only remedy for excess calorie consumption is to up your physical activity. There is no magic bullet — if you overeat, you must exercise more.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle, beware of those excess calories that come at you at a fast and furious pace during the holiday season. Start slow and don’t be intimidated by exercise gurus.

Always check with your health care provider before you exercise, especially if you have cardiovascular disease. Everyone needs to start exercising at their own comfort level. Exercise regimens also provide you the ability to indulge in excessive calorie intake on special occasions. If you eat more, adjust your exercise levels accordingly.

— Dr. Rao Ivaturi, UAP Clinic nutritionist


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