The holiday season might be the happiest time of year for some people, but it’s often the fattest time of year as well. Holiday parties, treats and dinners make it very difficult to keep weight loss goals on track.
But there is good news for dieters, says Diana Koenning, a registered dietician at WakeMed in Raleigh. They can still enjoy the foods they like and stay on track with their weight loss goals.
Koenning says people often fall into two traps this time of year: splurging with a pledge to get back on track after the holidays or depriving themselves of food to make up for past overeating. When they do the latter, she says, they tend to overeat again.
The holiday season shouldn’t necessarily be about losing weight but about keeping the same weight until the new year, she says.
Koenning says the best way to control eating is to eat at regular intervals – breakfast, lunch and dinner with healthy snacks in between, if a meal is delayed. Those meals need to be sufficient, meaning about 400 to 500 calories per meal for women and 500 to 600 calories for men.
She also recommends filling half of a plate with colorful fruits and vegetables – they provide a better array of nutrients – and then lean protein and high-fiber carbohydrates, like whole-grain rice or whole-grain bread.
Patricia Dumont, 68, of Garner, had a heart attack in May and then underwent cardio rehabilitation and nutrition classes at WakeMed to help bring her diet and health under control. This year, Christmas won’t be as food-centered as it used to be. It’s part of the healthy lifestyle she says she intends to practice, even in the midst of a very tempting season.
Dumont and her family fill more of their plates with fruits and vegetables, while including lean protein – not the huge steaks they used to eat.
“Now we have one steak,” she says. “I cut off my little bit, which is the size of a deck of cards.”
It's those simple lessons, in addition to regular exercise, that Dumont says will make the holiday season leaner for her and her family but no less festive.