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Holiday Nutrition Strategies
by Amy Carlson, MS, RD, LD

Did somebody say Thanksgiving?
I nearly fell of my chair the other day when somebody made reference to Thanksgiving! Well folks, it's only a few days away. Which also means, we are heading straight into the Holiday Season. Again! For many of my clients this is a high anxiety time. They feel the pressure to perform, stress from family gatherings, memories of past weight gain and desire to overeat just because "it only comes once a year!"

The 5-7 Pound Holiday Bulge
Most of you may know that the average American gains 5-7 pounds during the Holidays. Do you know how many extra calories it takes to gain seven pounds? I'll tell you: 24, 500 extra calories. You may be thinking, "I could never eat that many extra calories!" Let me set up a typical scenario for you; Thanksgiving Day comes, you are thrilled to be with your family. You gorge yourself on Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, and fresh baked bread. You forfeit your workouts for the whole weekend because you don't want to be rude with the relatives visiting and all. You feel sluggish and guilty and Monday morning you are faced with other people's leftovers. Then the Holiday candy, baked goods, and potlucks start, followed with a Holiday party at friends Friday night. You suddenly realize you haven't worked out in two weeks. "Oh, why should I start now, I feel so gross. I'll wait until January 1st!!!!!!!!" More parties, your own baking and lots of family get-togethers results in lots of overeating and under exercising. You vow to never do this again, next year you'll have a plan, you won't give in and you won't eat everything that's in front of you! Why not start this year with a plan!

Plan Not to Gain!
Let's just make a plan together right now. Get out your planner. Right now, review all of your Holiday parties. Put them in red or highlight them in your planner. Ok, now in a different color go through and write out your workouts from Thanksgiving to New Years. Schedule at least 4/week. These may not be all at the gym. They could include a bike ride, shopping at the mall (fast walkingJ) or even a game of basketball with your relatives. Then write out some of your "holiday nutrition goals" and put them in your planner, on your refrigerator, on your work computer and maybe enlist a friend or coworker to do it with you. Goals may include: 2 fruits/2 vegetables per day, 10 cups water/day, three meals with snacks as needed (no skipping meals), and bringing a healthy selection of Holiday goodies to your parties. You may want to pick up a Cooking Light magazine for some low fat tasty Holiday ideas. Remember, you don't have to be perfect through the Holidays.

Be A Picky Eater
This is a time to enjoy family and friends and rich traditions. But it is not a time to lose all self-control and throw your goals out the window. I've said it before and I'll say it again, BE A PICKY EATER! That is the best compliment you can receive. Don't just eat it because it's there. Pick and choose. Your body deserves the very best.

Party Tips
Other party tips include: don't go to any party hungry! Don't plan on overeating; eat before you go. A light snack will help you from overeating at the party. Stay away from the cheese cubes. We down these little square marvels thinking they are a healthy choice when many of them have 7-10 grams of fat/cube. Don't forfeit your water since you're drinking so many any other Holiday favorites. Many of those drinks have the same calories as a dessert! Be positive, you don't have to gain weight during the Holidays! You can keep on track and still enjoy yourself. Good Luck and have a wonderful Holiday season!!

Amy B. Carlson, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian and consults clients in the greater Houston area. To contact Amy for an appointment call 713.978.1713 or e-mail her at abcdietitian@houston.rr.com.

View Amy's Bio
View our frequently asked nutrition questions & answers




Weight Training
Lat Pulldowns
Pulldowns are a great exercise for the back muscles but avoid pulling the bar behind the head. Pull the bar down in front of the body toward the collar bone and with the bar just below your chin. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on the shoulders and rotator cuff.
Running
Avoiding Shin Splints
Do you have lower leg pain or shin splints from running? Running on hard surfaces, worn out running shoes and weak calf muscles could be the culprit. Try running on soft trails, buying a new pair of running shoes or adding calf exercises to your weight training routine.
Walking
The Talk Test
A great way to make sure you are staying in your aerobic fat-burning range is the talk test. If you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation with your walking partner you probably need to bring down the intensity to assure yourself that you are burning fat.
Fat Burning
Your Anaerobic Threshold
A great way to make sure you are burning fat during cardio sessions is knowing your anaerobic threshold or where your heart rate zone needs to be to burn fat stores. Find a gym or fitness center that offers anaerobic/VO2 testing. Merlino Fitness offers anaerobic threshold testing every month. Check out the link below for more details.
Merlino Fitness Metabolic Testing
Nutrition
Keys to Weight Loss
If you are trying to drop weight make sure you incorporate the following to get you on your way. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals (especially breakfast), do not eat late night meals or snacks after 7 or 8 pm and build as much activity into your everyday life as you can. Michael also recommends joining weight watchers to anyone trying to lose weight and keep it off long term.
Nutritional Supplements
Stay Away From Ephedra!
The weight loss/energy supplement is in the news again. Supplement companies that market this controversial supplement claim it is safe although many have died from this dangerous supplement. Make sure you check the labels of your nutritional supplements as many are laced with ephedra, also known as ephedrine or ma huang (the actual herbal).
Quick Tip Archives
Our archived collection of fitness and nutrition tips to help you stay focused and fit.
Tip Archives

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Ice Cream Sandwiches
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Eggology Egg Whites
Take the edge off those sweet cravings with this healthy soy alternative to an ice cream sandwich without the unwanted calories and guilt.
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Grocery Store Archives
Our latest collection of on-line articles to help you stay focuses and fit.
Grocery Archives
 
Fitness
Pamela from Chihuahua, MexicoI work out 5 days a week and can't loose weight. I do spinning, tae bo and many types of cardio. Where am I going wrong?
Answer
Nutrition
Ross from Sidney, AustraliaI am currently trying to eat six small meals per day. Apart from breakfast and dinner, I always seem to forget or skip my meals during the day. I also need some simple, easy meals (snacks) that do not require refrigeration or preparation, apart from the obvious fruits.
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Running
Amanda from Manitoba, CanadaWhat should I eat the morning of my track meet?
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