Many of us have heard it from our doctor before: “You need to lose weight.” And of course, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. According to the National Institute of Health, maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce, or help control, several diseases and conditions, including: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease and many types of cancer. Nevertheless, many of us find maintaining a healthy weight a difficult task—weight goes on, weight comes off, we diet for a few weeks, then return to our old eating habits. This is especially true during the holiday season.
Holiday pounds—the gift that keeps on giving
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with friends over drinks and reminisce about holidays past with family over meals. In many ways, holiday festivities and feasting provide friends and families with a place to come together—it helps us maintain close relationships—and it can also help us add on the pounds.
There is a bit of good news when it comes to holiday weight gain. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, while it is commonly believed that on average a person gains around 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, in truth studies have shown that most people gain less than a pound. “Less than a pound?” you may say, “bring on Grandma’s apple pie!” Unfortunately, the bad news is that those same studies show that once the holidays are over, you are unlikely to shed that pound, and over the years those pounds accumulate. In fact, the typical adult gains one to two pounds per year, which means that your typical middle-age waistline can be, in large part, attributed to overeating at the holidays. Additionally, if you are already overweight, then you are likely to gain even more weight during that same period—up to five pounds.
Tips for maintaining a healthy weight at the holidays
- Watch portion size. An easy way to fill up your plate while eating fewer calories is to load up on veggies! This means the majority of the items on your plate should be things like green beans, carrots, or salad—at least double than the meat portion. And, meat portions should be no larger than the palm of your hand.
- Try not to “overdo it” on cocktails. Cocktails contain a lot of sugar, in both the alcohol and the mixer, and sugar means unnecessary and empty calories. Replace sugary drink mixers with soda water. Be sure to drink plenty of water—around half of your body weight in ounces per day. Water fills you up and provides the hydration your body needs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends drinking alcohol in moderation, which is defined as 2 standard drinks or less per day for men, and 1 standard drink or less per day for women.
- Get plenty of rest! At least 7-8 hours of sleep per night does wonders for the body. Not enough sleep can result in an increase in the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can affect metabolism and increase body fat. Additionally, reduced amounts of sleep will make you more prone to crave sweets.
- Keep active. Don’t sit around watching movies after a big dinner. Instead, incorporate physical activity into your holiday tradition—go for a walk, learn a new dance, or even clean up after the dinner.
- Plan for big holiday parties. If you know when you’ll be attending a big dinner party, plan ahead. For example, if the party is in the evening, offset the number of calories you’ll consume that evening by eating lighter during the day. And, try eating a small amount of lean protein such as yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey or chicken before you go out. This will help take the edge off hunger.
- Create new traditions that aren’t food-centric. Attend an annual holiday concert or play, or catch up with a friend while going for a walk instead of meeting for peppermint mocha.
The Door Healthy Weight Center is here to help
If you find that maybe those holiday pounds have accumulated over the years to the point you struggle to get them off, the Door Healthy Weight Center is here for you. The Door Healthy Weight Center is an individualized one-year program that provides guidance, support, and information to those who struggle with a weight issue—it offers a whole-being approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by focusing not only on weight loss, but also on the reasons a person overeats.
In order to achieve and sustain their weight loss goals, each participant in the Door Healthy Weight Center program works with:
- A Registered Dietician, who teaches how to develop healthy eating habits, including: keeping a food diary, developing shopping lists, meal planning and kitchen organization.
- A Behavioral Health Specialist, who helps the participant not only understand what they eat, but why they eat—or more specifically, why they overeat.
- A Skilled Exercise Professional, who will provide the participant with a tailored exercise program to help them get started on the movement phase of their weight loss journey.
- A Registered Nurse Clinical Health Coach, who will walk with the participant through the program and their journey toward a healthier life.
The Door Healthy Weight Center is a cash-based program. The 22 visits with a Behavioral Health Therapist, 12 visits with a Registered Dietician, and 2 visits with an Exercise Professional, as well as regular contact with a Registered Nurse Clinical Health Coach cost $2,060 for the full year. HSA or flex spending accounts may be used.
For questions or to learn more about The Door Healthy Weight Center please call (920) 743-0530 or visit us online at https://www.dcmedical.org.