Tips from Summa Health System for enjoying holiday food without suffering holiday weight gain
AKRON, Ohio, Dec. 10 – ‘Tis the season for sweet treats at the office, upcoming family feasts and emotional triggers to overeat, which will unfortunately leave many Americans a few pounds heavier when they begin the new year. But despite the challenges of holiday eating, there are strategies to keep your diet on-track – or at least keep the scale in place – when those holiday cravings kick in.
“During the holidays and other special occasions, we tend to have many special foods available that we don’t have the rest of the year,” said Kenneth Wells, M.D, medical director of the medical weight loss management program at Summa’s Bariatric Care Center. “Many of us tend to eat much more than our body needs during these times, taking in far more calories than necessary and resulting in weight gain. There are also several emotional triggers that can cause someone to overeat ‘comfort’ foods, especially during this potentially stressful season.
Dr. Wells stresses that paying close attention to your personal food triggers is a key to stopping the dangerous pattern of overeating. Monitoring portion sizes and being aware of calories consumed while snacking or baking is also important.
“During the holidays, especially, there are no food labels on homemade dishes letting us know the calories, fat, or sugar content of our favorite foods,” he said. “This makes it very easy for someone to overdo it at family, social or office gatherings.”
Snacks and treats laid out at home and in the break room at work are another pitfall, Wells says, because it’s easy to munch on them throughout the day without even noticing.
Summa’s Bariatric Care Center has several tips for maintaining or losing weight this holiday season:
- Keep a food diary, either on paper or electronically, to monitor calorie intake each day
- Use a smaller plate to help create an illusion of more food
- Be aware of the liquid calories in alcohol and other holiday drinks
- Always make a place for fruit and vegetables on your plate during holiday dinners
- Remember to eat a healthy breakfast so you’re balanced on Christmas Day and during other holiday meals
- See if your family or friends would be willing to take a brisk walk a few hours after the meal – just 30 minutes of physical activity can make an impact
“It is possible to lose weight this time of year; however, this can be very overwhelming,” said Laura Ilg a registered dietician with Summa’s Bariatric Care Center. “I suggest just trying to maintain your weight during the holidays; and when the New Year rolls around, you’ll be in a much better place.”
Ilg recommends talking with a doctor or dietician regarding what an individual’s ideal calorie intake should be. A healthy calorie intake for an adult woman can range between 1200 and 1800 calories per day and 1400 to 2200 for a man.
Bariatric Care Center provides both medical weight loss management and surgical weight loss options. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org/weightloss.
About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently
recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding
partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/summahealth and Twitter at www.twitter.com/summahealth.