Prevent holiday weight gain

Ideas to keep the extra pounds off during the holiday season.

Do you find yourself gaining a few pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? It is a common problem. Parties, special holiday recipes, takeout food and meals away from home due to busy schedules all can contribute to extra pounds by Jan. 1. It may seem easy to decide to not gain the extra weight this year, but more difficult in reality. Here are some suggestions from Michigan State University Extension to help avoid unwanted extra pounds.

Plan your weekly meals in advance of doing your grocery shopping. Including healthy meals during the week between meals out and parties will help to balance high calories meals. Plan things that are quick and easy to make, such as stir fry using frozen pre-cut vegetables, baked frozen fish with quick cooking rice and frozen vegetables or chicken breast with a microwaved sweet potato and salad from pre-cut salad mixing, which are healthier and have fewer calories. How about an omelet with pre-chopped vegetables and whole wheat toast?

If you know you will eat a meal at the mall or at a restaurant on the run, look for items on the menu that are not deep fried and do not include breading any fatty sauces, such as gravies and cream sauce. Menu items to look for include: foods that are broiled or baked such as baked potato, broiled fish and grilled chicken. Include fruits and vegetables such as a side salad, vegetables or seasonal fruit.

If you are going to have an alcoholic drink at a party or other gathering, have a glass of ice water with or after your drink. Look for healthy options on buffet lines. If you are going to eat high calories options, try to balance these with fresh vegetables and fruits. Keep portion size in mind when you are filling your plate at the buffet line. Be choosy about your selections. If one of your favorite foods is being served, choose that dish, but don’t have one of everything on the table.

Holiday baking can add many extra calories, sugar and fat to our diets. Review your list of cookies, candies and bars that you normally make each year. Is there something that you find yourself having extra after the holiday every year, such as an extra pound of fudge? Maybe you could make a small batch or eliminate it from the list this year. Consider making smaller amounts of each kind of treat this year. Everyone can still enjoy their favorite treat but there will be less to feel bad about tossing out if they don’t all get ate.

Look for ways to keep active during the holidays. A walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the decorated homes is fun and will give you some extra energy to help finish up with the gift wrapping. Include activities for your holiday get together that involve physical exertion; sledding, cross-country skiing or a scavenger hunt are all fun and active. Another idea is to put some music on and dance or play a video game which includes moving, like the popular dance games or other such video games.

Take a little extra time to plan and think ahead about how you will keep your holidays healthy and active this year and you will find yourself healthier as you greet the New Year on Jan.1!